Source:  BusinessWorld

AN ITALIAN railway contractor and a local infrastructure firm are the latest companies that firmed up their interest to bid against Philippine conglomerates for the P15-billion contract to operate two existing train lines serving Metro Manila, data from the Transportation department showed.

The two firms, Finmeccanica and Kempal United Corp., join 10 others that have similarly purchased bid documents for the four- to five-year maintenance and operations contract for the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) and the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) ahead of the July 11 deadline for bid proposals.

Finmeccanica, with headquarters in Italy, is a manufacturing firm involved in aeronautics, defense and security electronics, energy and transportation sectors, according to its Web site.

Its subsidiary Ansaldo STS “designs, develops and produces rail and metro signaling and traffic monitoring systems and services.”

The firm’s AnsaldoBreda unit, on the other hand, is involved in the construction of rail and metro works.

Kempal United, meanwhile, is a local firm involved in the supply and trading industrial, electronics and electrical systems, including rail and locomotive equipment.

Its previous projects include the liquefied petroleum gas piping system for Petron Corp. in 2005 and the Dagat-dagatan sewage treatment plant project for Maynilad Water Services, Inc. in 2004, according to its Web site.

The other 10 firms who had earlier bought bid documents are: Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corp., conglomerate Ayala Corp., construction giant DM Consunji, Inc., Ramon S. Ang-chaired Optimal Infrastructure Development, Inc., Japanese firms Sumitomo Corp. and Marubeni Corp., UK-based SERCO, Abratique and Associates, Philippines, Inc., Ecorail Transport Services, Inc., and Autre Porte Technique Global, Inc.

In a text message last Friday, Ruben S. Reinoso, Jr., Transportation undersecretary, said the department is still expecting more firms to purchase the bid documents.

“Twelve firms [have already bought bid documents] but many went to the Department of Transportation and Communications to examine the bid documents in the data room,” Mr. Reinoso said.

These 12 were among the 45 firms that submitted their expressions of interest to bid in the project last month.

Last week, the cost of the project was increased to P15 billion from P14 billion due to the inclusion of power cost, Mr. Reinoso said in a previous interview.

Since potential investors should have completed a similar contract with a value of 50% of the approved budget for the deal, this requirement has also increased to P7.5 billion from P7 billion as a result of the increase in project cost.

A pre-bidding conference is slated for May 18.

A site inspection is also being prepared for the potential investors.

The LRT-1/MRT-3 project is the first public-private partnership this year for which the government issued bidding invitations.

Other public-private partnership deals set to be offered within the first half of this year include the Daang Hari-South Luzon Expressway link, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport expressway, and the North Luzon and South Luzon expressway link, according to earlier reports. — Kathleen A. Martin <br> </br>