Cebu will have LRT dur­ing Duterte’s term

Cebu Daily News - - NEWS - By Jose Santino S. Bu­na­chita RE­PORTER

ALight Rail Tran­sit (LRT) pro­ject in Cebu will be among the big-ticket projects to be im­ple­mented dur­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte.

Pres­i­den­tial As­sis­tant for the Visayas Michael Dino said an LRT sys­tem in Metro Cebu can be an ef­fi­cient form of mass trans­port sys­tem and help ad­dress its wors­en­ing traf­fic con­di­tions.

Speak­ing dur­ing yes­ter­day’s Con­ver­gence of Mega Cebu Lead­ers, Dino said there are al­ready sev­eral pri­vate groups, and even the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment who have ex­pressed in­ter­est in de­vel­op­ing an LRT sys­tem i n the prov­ince and are now con­duct­ing ini­tial tests and stud­ies for the pro­ject.

“In fact, we’re wait­ing for a cer­tain com­pany who would do maybe an un­so­licited pro­posal. I think in a mat­ter of a month or two, I think the pro­posal will be­gin. So let’s wait and see. LRT will hap­pen soon. It will re­ally hap­pen in this ad­min­is­tra­tion,” he said.

Dino also said an LRT sys­tem is not anti-poor, con­trary to opin­ion of some de­trac­tors.

He said that he read in the pa­pers about some­body com­ment­ing that an LRT in Cebu will be an­tipoor.

He ex­plained that it will even­tu­ally be the poor and the reg­u­lar peo­ple who will ben­e­fit if there will be an LRT sys­tem in Cebu.

“I can­not un­der­stand be­cause it’s very clear. Kinsa man ang naggamit sa LRT sa Manila? Ang mga dato ba or ang mga po­bre? (Who are us­ing the LRT in Manila? The rich or the poor?) I just want to put things in proper per­spec­tive. Ang mogamit ana, dili man sig­uro ang mga dato. Ang mga po­bre man sig­uro (Those who will use it are prob­a­bly not the rich, it’s prob­a­bly the poor),” he said.

Ear­lier this week, Cebu City Mayor To­mas Os­meña made a pub­lic pro­nounce­ment that he will only sup­port an LRT pro­ject in Cebu if the city gov­ern­ment will not spend money for it.

Os­meña, who is not ex­actly very friendly with Dino, said though that in his opin­ion, only the rich will be able to af­ford the LRT and that “the poor will re­main liv­ing below the bridges.”

But Tal­isay City Mayor Ed­uardo Gul­las said he will con­tinue to sup­port the im­ple­men­ta­tion of an LRT pro­ject in Cebu.

He said that when he was first dis­trict rep­re­sen- tative, he au­thored House Bill 1588 to es­tab­lish and or­ga­nize a Cebu LRT Au­thor­ity dur­ing the 10th and even the 11th Congress.

“Bangkok, Thai­land used to have an aw­ful traf­fic, much more aw­ful than we can think of in Cebu. They built an LRT and the traf­fic nor­mal­ized,” Gul­las said.

Cebu City and the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion (DOTr) are cur­rently im­ple­ment­ing the P10­bil­lion Cebu Bus Rapid Tran­sit (BRT) pro­ject, an­other mass trans­port sys­tem in Cebu City.

Although he is strongly push­ing for the LRT in Cebu, Dino did not ex­pressly say he will op­pose the BRT pro­ject.

The pres­i­den­tial as­sis­tant re­called that in one fo­rum he at­tended, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Ja­pan In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Agency (JICA), men­tioned that no mat­ter how many bridges are con­structed or roads opened and widened, there will still be choke points.

This is why, he said an ef­fi­cient mass trans­port sys­tem should be es­tab­lished to ad­dress the ev­er­grow­ing traf­fic con­cerns in Metro Cebu and that “we need this LRT.”

Dino said that he is sug­gest­ing that if there will be a bid­ding for the LRT pro­po­nent, it should be the bid­der that of­fers the low­est fare rates that should be de­clared the win­ner. This way, peo­ple can’t say that LRT fares are too high.

“It’s about time we ask these things (big in­fra­struc­ture projects) from the gov­ern­ment. We have to wake up and re­ally do some­thing about it. I hope ev­ery­one will sup­port the LRT. It will be at no cost to the gov­ern­ment. Hope­fully, un­der PPP (pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship),” Dino said.

He cited as an ex­am­ple the P50-bil­lion Metro Cebu Ex­press­way which will con­nect Naga City in the south to Danao City in the north. Con­struc­tion of the 74-kilo­me­ter ex­press­way is ex­pected to start next year.

Dino said he pushed for the pro­ject be­cause the last ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing for Cebu was the Marcelo Fer­nan Bridge, which started dur­ing the time of for­mer pres­i­dent Fidel Ramos and was com­pleted at the term of for­mer pres­i­dent Joseph Estrada.

By­pass and di­ver­sion

Mean­while, other lo­cal ini­tia­tives should also be done by lo­cal gov­ern­ment units and groups like the Mega Cebu.

Cebu 1st Dis­trict Rep. Ger­ald An­thony Gul­las said that while the na­tional gov­ern­ment fo­cuses on ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture projects to solve traf­fic in- clud­ing the widen­ing and im­prove­ment of na­tional roads, lo­cal of­fi­cials should also help by open­ing di­ver­sion roads away from na­tional high­ways.

“If we can in­clude rec­om­men­da­tions on more by­pass roads be­cause if we can do a lot of these, de­vel­op­ment will im­prove in other ar­eas as traf­fic can im­prove,” Gul­las said.

He cited the traf­fic prob­lems in Minglanilla town, say­ing if di­ver­sion roads are opened, ve­hi­cles can use these in­stead of the high­way in or­der to ease traf­fic con­ges­tion.

More im­por­tantly, these ar­eas are barangay or mu­nic­i­pal roads which are not part of the na­tional gov­ern­ment’s re­spon­si­bil­ity and can be lo­cally funded by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, city or prov­ince where it is lo­cated.

Last March, Gul­las said rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works and High­ways (DPWH) vis­ited his dis­trict to start prepa­ra­tions for a fea­si­bil­ity study on a Tal­isayMinglanilla-Naga by­pass road.

He said DPWH Sec­re­tary Mark Vil­lar told him that the pro­ject will cost P15.5 bil­lion.

CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MEN­DOZA

Michael Dino (left), Pres­i­den­tial As­sis­tant for the Visayas, dis­cusses the need of a Light Rail Tran­sit (LRT) in Cebu as an ef­fi­cient mass trans­port sys­tem as he speaks dur­ing the Mega Cebu lead­ers con­ver­gence meet­ing .

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