Save on Light Rail costs for the good of the population
In the current economic downturn, many residents are concerned about the expensive and ineffective construction of the Light Rail. The truth is that the epidemic continues to leave its impact on the coffers of the Macau Special Administrative Region, at a time when society and its inhabitants need resources and assistance. Therefore, I suggest to the authorities to save while possible and spend only what is necessary. A reduction in the costs of contracting services and, consequently, in the capital invested in infrastructure, can be negotiated with the company that manages the Hong Kong Metro (MTR), making good use of these resources.
The Traffic Affairs Bureau (DSAT) announced the suspension of Light Rail services, due to the imposition of “partial confinement” by the Macau Government. Since the reopening of its services in April this year, after being suspended last year due to a cable breakdown, the average number of passengers has not exceeded 1,700 per day, which is low. With the current epidemic outbreak, the growing process will be delayed and empty carriages and stations will be commonplace. The Government says that Metro Ligeriro is still not performing as expected, as the network is not yet completed. The Barra station – the first to be inaugurated – should only be operational at the end of next year or in 2024. The Government should therefore seek to reduce the pressure of these costs on the budget.
Last year, 20 percent less of the total invested in 2020 was spent on the Light Rail, mainly due to the drop in the number of passengers with the pandemic. However, about 720 million, or 86 percent, was allocated to contracting services from MTR Hong Kong. In the previous year, this company had only received two million. During the signing of the contract, it was believed that it was, to a certain extent, based on the estimated number of passengers. Faced with a reduction in the number of users and the financial pressure exerted on the Macao SAR Government, the Macau MTR must assume its social responsibility and present to the Government a proposal to reduce the fees for contracting services without affecting its employees. and related income.
Due to the lack of specialized technical knowledge in the field of transport, Macau still depends on external resources for certain positions. Therefore, it is expected that the authorities will use this time to develop local talent in the sector, to respond to future needs and create more employment opportunities for the local population. With the MTR (Macau) management contract expiring at the end of 2024, the authorities share that, in the future, Metro Ligeiro will not depend on a single company and will explore more options. In this sense, I hope that the authorities will take the necessary measures and include social responsibility clauses in future contracts, guaranteeing the relationship between payment for services and performance, safeguarding the economic and social benefits of Metro Ligeiro.
*Federation of Macau Workers’ Associations