DOTC to file charges vs MRT-3 drivers

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

MANILA (Updated) -- The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) will file administrative charges against the train drivers and control center personnel on duty when the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) train mishap happened last week.

In a press conference Tuesday, the DOTC said human error is the cause of the accident that hurt at least 38 people at Edsa-Taft Avenue Station in Pasay City last August 13.

The train had a technical problem and was being pushed by another when it became detached and rolled into the concrete barrier at the final station of the MRT-3.

Abaya said the drivers of the two trains did not have proper coordination.

"They've never done any actual coupling procedures," he said.

The assisting train driver, who conducted the coupling of the two trains, did not ask approval from the drivers of the distressed train, Abaya added.

The DOTC secretary said the assisting train "bumped" the disabled train instead of getting close and using the coupling mechanism.

According to the data from the black box, the MRT trains were moving at 40 kilometers per hour (kph), which is faster than the 15 kph speed limit.

Abaya said representatives from MRT Hong Kong will arrive on Monday to inspect the MRT.

In a television interview, MRT spokesman Hernando Cabrera said the frequent breakdown of the MRT-3 can be a result of overloading, lack of rehabilitation, and retrofitting performed eight years ago.

The mass transit system is serving over half a million passengers daily, well above its intended capacity of 350,000 every day.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III and Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon have already sought congressional investigation on the accident.

“Why is this happening? What must be done? Let’s probe the existing maintenance contract of MRT 3, and everything else will follow,” said Pimentel a day after the mishap, noting that in the last three years, no single bidding for maintenance of the overused units was conducted.

Apart from maintenance issues, the MRT management has been heavily criticized for long queues during rush hours, computer glitches and loss of power.

Its former general manager, Al Vitangcol III, was also sacked by Malacanang last May following charges of conflict of interest over the train’s maintenance deal.

The government has proposed a P6.6-billion subsidy for the MRT for 2015 from P4.09 billion this year. (Nera Mariz Puyo/Ruth Abbey Gita/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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