Disaster Waiting to Happen

In the wake of the EDSA-MRT3 accident (that if we can even call it an accident is another story) there are just so many questions to ask than finding what really the answer/s be in order to prevent it from happening ever again. Yet at this moment, many rail experts believe that the current situation of the MRT System is a disaster waiting to happen because of the improper maintenance and non-upkeep of the entire railway system. Documents shows that although it is designed to last for 25 years, it can only be realized if it is maintained properly because the daily wear and tear may cause metal fatigue to the already worn out and over-burden railway system that carries more passengers than it was originally designed.

According to the initial incident report, the southbound MRT train that carries about 500 passengers stalled after leaving the Magallanes Station apparently because of insufficient power supply. And in an attempt to bring the passengers to safety, the MRT control center ordered an operational train to push the stalled train to the next station. Unfortunately, when the trains start moving, the coupling that joins them reportedly got detached causing the defective train to move very fast on a downslope tracks and crashed into the steel barrier of the Taft Avenue station. The incident resulted to cause minor and serious injuries to more than 30 people.

When Metro Rail Transit Holdings (MRTH) built the MRT3 in 1996, foreign experts and the Philippine government affirmed it as a safe system to travel for mass rapid transit line. However, in recent years, the safety and reliability of the MRT3 system has been put into question because of the series of accidents that happened. Many experts blamed it to the aging railway system and that it also operates significantly above its designed daily capacity. But there have been no major accidents in the past 12 years while Sumimoto and Mitsubishi maintained and continuously upgrade the maintenance procedures despite operating over capacity. On the other hand, it has been reported that all major accidents happened only in the last two years, including the most recent one when the maintenance of the system has been given to another company’s responsibility together with the usual legal conflicts.

And while the Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC) are still investigating if mechanical or human failure was the cause of the train to crash, DOTC Sec. Abaya hastily came out with a conclusion already that the two drivers are to be blamed for the accident as they broke standard operating procedures, according to reports. But I think what’s really disturbing is when Sec. Abaya made comments about the incident that “Riding is a personal decision. I won’t go out of my way to convince the people to ride the MRT.” Which many believe is contradictory to what he said that the MRT remain safe to the riding public.

While the issue of blaming game about the Taft Avenue train derailment is not new anymore when it comes to this kind of situation but making a conclusion before even a thorough investigation has yet to be done is just a clear sign that no one would want to accept responsibilities. I am not a railway expert or an engineer of sort but pointing finger to the drivers as the one who are at fault at this moment is like convicting an accused person without due process. I’m not saying that they are absolve from the incident but why only blame them when the root cause of the incident is the aging railway system itself. And since the authorities continue to insist that the railway system is maintained properly and that MRT remain safe then why it stalled in the first place? Perhaps it is within normal operation for an MRT to come to a sudden standstill while travelling from one station to the other.

Image from Rappler.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *