By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Grace Poe said Friday that she was expecting that the operations of the Light Rail Transit 2 (LRT-2) will get back to normal in less than nine months.
This, after the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) hinted at a shorter period for the repair of the LRT-2 substations damaged by a fire last October 3.
During a technical working group meeting of the Senate Committee on Public Services on Thursday, LRTA Deputy for Operation and Engineering Paul Chua said the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) has finally allowed them to open and inspect the rectifier substations for actual damage assessment.
Chua clarified to the panel presided by Poe’s legislative team that the initial assessment that the repair of the damaged rectifiers would take nine months or until mid-2020 was based on a worst-case scenario that the entire substation “will be declared totally unusable.”
“Since we were just allowed yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon to open the rectifiers for actual assessment of the damage, we can only build the actual damage scenario probably in two days’ time,” Chua said.
Lawmakers earlier chided the BFP for delaying the repair of the LRT-2. In a hearing at the House of Representatives, LRTA officials bared that the fire investigators barred them from inspecting the damaged rectifiers while they were looking into what caused the fire.
The LRTA has identified 189 parts of the substations that were damaged by the fire, of which 178 have replacement parts.
Chua said management will submit to the committee a report on the extent of damage incurred by the substations, including a concrete timeline until such time when LRT-2 can resume normal operations.
He added the management has lined up key projects to avert a similar crisis in the future, and to ease the commuting woes of passengers. The projects include the procurement of 14 train sets over the next five years, and the installation of a system that will give the agency the capacity to monitor and record thunder and lightning strikes from inside and outside of the entire LRT-2 line.
“We will keep a close watch on the LRT’s rehabilitation, and beyond this, we will expect a more comprehensive plan on how to improve service and expand capacity. Our train riders deserve better,” Poe said in a statement.
The LRT-2 on October 3 suspended its operations following a fire that hit it substations that supplies power to the Anonas-Katipunan stations.
The train system partially resumed operations last Tuesday, with stations Cubao to Recto opened to commuters.