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Mumbai taken for a ride over pending monorails?

There is a possibility of Mumbaikars not getting the promised monorail fleet, with serious concerns being raised on whether the five monorail rakes—pending with Malaysian company Scomi Engineering—will be delivered at all.

Mumbai is supposed to get 15 monorail trains or rakes, of which it currently has 10. The delivery of the remaining five rakes is repeatedly getting rescheduled, thanks to the financial distress that Scomi Engineering is facing.

Last year, the cost-cutting on part of the company saw several of their team members returning to Malaysia. The money crunch also resulted in delayed payment of staff salaries.

A source in the know of developments told DNA that it will not be surprising if Scomi Engineering, the partner in consortium of Larsen & Toubro-Scomi Engineering (LTSE), fails to deliver the remaining five rakes.

“We sent notices on a couple of occasions, reminding them on contractual obligations,” confirmed Sanjay Khandare, Additional Metropolitan Commissioner of Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).

Despite this, the remaining rakes are yet to reach the Indian shores for the commissioning of the second phase (Wadala Depot-Jacob Circle) of the larger Chembur-Wadala-Jacob Circle (Sant Ghadge Maharaj Chowk).

According to sources, the response that MMRDA is getting from the Malaysian firm is that they need more time to modify and deliver an upgrade these rakes, necessitated due to frequent breakdowns of trains in operation in Mumbai. The modifications are being carried out since November 2015, but yet to be completed.

Also, if Scomi Engineering manages to deliver upgraded version, there could be technical issues pertaining to system integration which will have to be resolved separately, sources said.

Malaysian company’s deadline to operate and maintain the project is ending in January. “Second phase between Wadala Depot-Jacob Circle is yet to be commissioned due to delay in arrival of rakes. They will now have to handle the project for another six months,” said a source.

MMRDA officials are trying to get at least three of the five rakes delivered by the first week of February, and the remaining two by June, which is much after the project commissioning date.

For the delay, MMRDA will be penalising Scomi Engineering Rs 1 lakh per month per rake, which works out to be a minimum of Rs 10 lakh.

To ensure that the five monorail rakes reach Indian shores, a team of MMRDA officials will have to visit the plant in Malaysia. A similar visit in June 2016 had yielded results, when Scomi Engineering met some of its obligations.

Scomi Engineering did not respond to DNA’s queries.

73% of the monorail commuters are regulars.

33% of the commuters are in 16-22 age group.

29% each in age group of 23-30 and 31-58.

17,000 – 18,000 average daily riders.