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Consortium backs out of LRT loop part

Vol. XXII, No. 5 [ BusinessWorld Online ]
Friday, August 1, 2008 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

THE CONSORTIUM formed by Lopez-led First Balfour, Inc. and the Consunjis’ DMCI Holdings, Inc. has abandoned its bid for the computer and electronic component of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) loop project, citing the project’s constrictive budget.

In an interview, First Balfour Senior Vice-President Rey G. Villar said the company would not bid for the project anymore since it had ceased to become a profitable investment.

Construction of packages A1, A2 and B covering the main structures of the project worth P5.9 billion — awarded to the DMCI-First Balfour consortium — started on July 9. Bidding for package C of the project, which involves installation of signal and wiring equipment, failed in April after DMCI-First Balfour, the only party qualified to join the bidding then, did not submit documents.

Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) Administrator Melquidades A. Robles told BusinessWorld there were challenges in the pricing of the final phase of the project, having been quoted two years ago.

He said prices of copper and steel — two main components of package C — had gone up to unexpected levels. But the fact that there are still bidders means that there is no need to revise the project’s budget, he added. Mr. Robles said the whole LRT loop project is "still on schedule." LRT officials expect the link to be completed in time for the next presidential elections in May 2010.

Meanwhile, a unit of the country’s largest power distributor, the Meralco (Manila Electric Co.) Industrial Engineering Services Corp. (MIESCOR), plans to bid for the project.

"We can do [the project] 100%... We have the capability and track record," said a MIESCOR official who did not want to be identified.

He said the firm was still estimating the costs, adding that they have until Aug. 19 to submit an offer to the LRTA. The decision to bid for the project would still depend on the potential profit, the official said, adding that they would not compromise the quality of construction to cut costs.

He declined to comment on whether the company would ask the government to revise the budget. Several firms have also expressed interest in the project, Mr. Robles said.

The LRT loop will connect the LRT-1, which runs from Baclaran to Monumento, with the Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3), which traverses EDSA from Pasay City to North Avenue in Quezon City. The P6.4-billion project that will connect the two lines through the LRT-1’s Monumento station in Caloocan and the MRT-3’s North Avenue station is meant to alleviate traffic in the metropolis. — Paolo Luis G. Montecillo

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