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BURI to refute grounds for terminating MRT-3 maintenance contract

Embattled Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI) intends to disprove the basis used the Department of Transportation (DOTr) in serving a notice to terminate its maintenance contract covering the Metro Rail Transit Line-3 (MRT-3).

"Through the process of arbitration that will commence between BURI and the DOTr, and other judicial remedies BURI is considering, the grounds raised by DOTr in its notice to terminate its contract will be proven to be bereft of factual and legal basis," the MRT-3 contractor said.

The company issued the statement just hours after the DOTr announced that BURI has been served a notice to terminate its MRT-3 maintenance contract.

BURI said it can hurdle the process of contract termination formally initiated by the DOTr.

The Transportation department has served BURI a notice on Tuesday, citing four reasons regarding the company's performance and its failures in delivering on the provisions of the contract.

BURI said the allegation of poor performance "will be met by evidence that BURI has delivered even more than what is required under its contract."

It has fixed 26 coaches to raise the number of running trains when it started servicing the mass rail transit system in January 2016, to about 22 trains, the company noted.

"It also especially meets train availability requirements that serve as the contract’s key performance indicators, the ultimate test of BURI’s compliance with its obligations under the contract," it said.

"Documentary and technical evidence, as well as historical data, will also show that the charge of BURI liability for incidents of train removal, service interruptions, unloading and derailment in the MRT-3 is misplaced," the company said.

Such incidents were mainly a result of system design issues and not by alleged poor maintenance, Busan Universal noted. "The evidence dates back to long before BURI assumed its contract," it said.

"The system design concerns are further confirmed by the fact that the MRT-3 suffered 1,492 glitches even during its first year of service in year 2000," BURI said.

At that time, the trains and rails were brand new and the number of passengers was well below present figures, yet the system was suffering four glitches on average per day, the contractor argued.

Its service contract recognizes the likelihood the glitches, and provision have been made exempting the company from penalty in cases of service interruptions caused by rail condition and signaling-related problems until the components are replaced or addressed by the government.

"BURI’s true responsibility, again borne out by the contract, is to be able to fix or correct these glitches when they arise—and not to make them disappear entirely," Busan Universal noted.

The company claimed that documentary evidence from MRT3’s own records would show that BURI was able to significantly reduce the number of glitches when it took over the maintenance works of the mass rail transit system, saying the evidence would belie the accusation that it is incompetent.

It also alleged that it has been shortchanged by the DOTr by withholding payments that now amount to nearly P350 million, some of which date back to a year earlier. — Ted Cordero/VDS, GMA News