‘Rising commitment fees not under our watch’

66

The Department of Transportation (DoTr) on Thursday dismissed claims that its alleged inaction on particular projects and programs cost the government P299.75 million in accumulated commitment fees last year.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade categorically denied the accumulated fees happened under his watch.

“We would like to state categorically that the delays in implementation, which cost the government P299.75 million in commitment fees, were not accumulated during our administration. In fact, the DoTr has ordered a 24-hour construction schedule and has successfully fast-tracked several projects that have been delayed for years,” he said in a statement.

On so-called official development assistance or ODA-assisted projects specifically mentioned in the CoA Report, the DoTr said.

• Puerto Princesa Airport Development Project
The new terminal of the Puerto Princesa International Airport was inaugurated on 04 May 2017, or barely a year since they took over.

• New Bohol Airport Construction and Sustainable Environment Protection Project
The New Bohol Airport in Panglao is now 94 percent complete and scheduled to be inaugurated in November.

• New Communications, Navigation, Surveillance/Air Traffic Management Systems Development Project
The CNS/ATM Project has already been delayed for years. Tugade instructed the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to prioritize the project and get the much-needed technology running. The CNS/ATM was inaugurated in January 2018 and is now operational.

It also appreciated the vigilance of the CoA and gave assurance the agency is not remiss on its duty to improve the state of transportation in the country.

• Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 Cavite Extension
This project has a long and winding history of delays. It was only during this administration that significant progress was made. The groundbreaking was held in May 2017, and since then, pre-construction activities have already taken place. Currently, the construction yard behind SM Sucat is undergoing construction while work on the columns or piers will begin in January 2019. The partially operable sections (Baclaran – Dr. Santos) will be operational by the Q3 2021.

• LRT Line 2 Masinag Extension
The LRT-2 Masinag Extension project was delayed due to failed bidding on the construction of the station. Now, construction is ongoing. Stations are 56.8 percent complete, while the viaduct is 100 percent complete.

• Cebu Bus Rapid Transit System
NEDA-ICC has given its approval of the project as part of an integrated intermodal transport system for Metro Cebu.

• Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project Phases 1 and 2
Phase 1 involves the acquisition of ten (10) 40-meter multi-role response vessels (MRRV) to enhance the capacity of the Philippine Coast Guard in coastal areas. As of 20 August 2018, all 10 MRRV have been delivered and turned over by the Japanese government.

Phase 2 involves the acquisition of two (2) 94-meter MRRV to enhance the PCG’s response capability in offshore and coastal areas. It is now awaiting the final contract for the consultancy.

• Philippine Coast Guard Capability Development Project
The project involves the acquisition of four (4) 24-meter Fast Patrol Boat and one (1) 82-meter offshore patrol vessel from France. The first 24-meter FPB was delivered in August, while the second was delivered in September. Delivery for the remaining FPB will be completed in November. Meanwhile, the 82-meter vessel will be delivered in August 2019.
The DoTr chief said the department is not weak in the implementation of the projects, ODA-funded or otherwise. It has not been causing the delays. In fact, the Duterte administration is bearing the burden of catching up on delayed projects, Tugade said.

It also appreciated the vigilance of the CoA and gave assurance the agency is not remiss on its duty to improve the state of transportation in the country.

Separately, the DoTr also said remarks by Assistant Secretary Mark De Leon on the supposed disadvantages of treating PUV operations as an individual operator’s business as opposed to an organized transportation business were false interpretations.

An organized transportation business, one of the key targets of the PUV modernization program, means better fleet management, increased benefits for drivers and operators as well as safer and more comfortable commuting experience for the riding public, the agency said.

One reason why public transport in the Philippines is disorderly and disorganized is due in part to wanton approval of PUV ownership and application for franchise and the operation of these units as one desires. The agency said the Duterte administration wants to change that.

De Leon said the DoTr never intended to belittle the livelihood of PUJ operators and drivers. But while public transport may be a legitimate source of income for some people, but the manner by which such livelihood is pursued needs to change, he said.

The DoTr has ordered a 24-hour construction schedule and has successfully fast-tracked several projects that have been delayed for years.

“Certain reports came up today stating that the DOTr is insensitive. The very fact that only this administration has the political will to modernize the public transportation system proves otherwise.

What are your thoughts?

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here