Now they want to hike MRT/LRT fares? Garapal!

MRTwagonThe Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) announced Tuesday that gov’t will implement train fare increases before Christmas. That’s how the government says “Merry Christmas” to the commuting public. Gov’t wants fares to increase by almost double the current rate.

This government is just so thick faced, insensitive and inept. After displaying gross incompetence and criminal neglect re the maintainance of the metro train system, the Aquino gov’t and its transport officials now have the gall to now burden the commuters with higher fare rates? Define garapal.

Gov’t has recycled claims that the planned fare increase will mean improvement of trains and services. Really?

For instance, the government says the plan is to reduce government subsidy for MRT and LRT from P12 billion to P10 billion. But where do these “subsidies” (which, by the way, are funds from taxpayers and commuters) go?
The government funds do not actually go to train maintainance and improvement, but to debt payments and superprofit guarantees given to private concessionaires via onerous and unfair contracts. The government train deals are so unfair that we end up paying humonguous debt and equity payments to concessionaires.

In the past years, the revenues of the MRT for instance have been found to be enough to cover the operations and improvement of trains. But unfair Build-Lease-Transfer (BLT) arrangements and profit guarantees burdened taxpayers with billions of pesos of “subsidies” which go to foreign banks, private concessionaires who in turn give kickbacks to transport officials.

MRTIn 2010, for instance, only P645 million was needed to cover operationg costs of the MRT. The MRT earned P1.9 billion. But the MRT had to pay P7.878 billion in Build-Lease-Transfer agreement payments.

Data from the DOTC will show that the government and the taxpayers have already spent $779 million or P32.5 billion in equity rental payments (ERP’s) from 2000-2013, more than four times the $190 million original investment of Metro Rail Transit Corporation from 1995 to 1997. This means that the government, taxpayers and commuters shouldered most of the costs while concessionaires were guaranteed 15% returns.

Some studies indicate that without these unfair debt payments, fares could even be lowered to P9 and will still be able to cover operation and maintainance costs.

In short, the commuting public and the taxpayers have actually been “subsidizing” profits, unfair debt payments and kickbacks. And through a fare hike, they will be made to shoulder more.

Niloloko tayo at ginigisa tayo sa sariling mantika.

The fare hike for the LRT1, aside from covering debt payments, serves as a “sweetener” for the recent LRT1 privatization deal awarded to MVP-Ayala. The DOTC promised a fare hike bundled with the same unjust profit and debt guarantees which the commuters will burden.

mrtderailed1Why, you ask, is the Aquino government and the transport officials allowing such deals? Don’t ask why. Ask how much kickbacks they are set to get via these deals. Note that no less than the sister of the president is involved in a bribery scandal involving purchase of trains.

And there you are, the daily commuter, suffering everyday in the name of privatization, profit and kickbacks. “Just add water” and it gets worse: floods, traffic, metro Armageddon.

 

On twitter, commuters are now #mandirigma. Daily, they go to battle and cheat death in overcrowded train rides, hellish traffic and flash floods.

Commuter-mandirigmas should wield their power and slay the monster that is government ineptness and corruption. They should demand the resignation of cabinet officials responsible for the Metro traffic and flood mess starting with DOTC secretary ‘Pabaya’ este Abaya.

They should fight for safe, efficient and accessible mass transport system and call for genuine change and accountability. Mass transport should be for the people, not for profit.

 

Stock photos from thepoc.net. Some rights reserved.

As originally posted at Blog Watch

Vencer is national chairperson of Anakbayan and spokesperson and former secretary general of Kabataan Partylist. He was national also chairperson of the League of Filipino Students. He is also a web designer and an internet enthusiast. He blogs at vencercrisostomo.com

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