Fight to scrap BRT not over

The Freeman - - FRONT PAGE - Jean Marvette A. De­me­cillo,

“It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.”

Cebu Bus Rapid Tran­sit pro­po­nents, who are still in a cel­e­bra­tory mood fol­low­ing Tues­day’s ap­proval of P5.67 bil­lion ex­tra bud­get for the pro­ject, may have to hold their horses a bit.

This as Pres­i­den­tial As­sis­tant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino said he will con­tinue to lobby for BRT’s can­cel­la­tion af­ter learn­ing that Mayor To­mas Os­meña in­tends to fur­ther re­view the pro­ject’s road-shar­ing sys­tem, par­tic­u­larly on the Bani­lad-Talam­ban cor­ri­dor.

At the Ban-Tal cor­ri­dor, Os­meña is push­ing for a mixed-use scheme wherein the BRT units and pri­vate ve­hi­cles would share lanes.

Dino, in a phone in­ter­view yes­ter­day, said the pro­ject should be can­celed con­sid­er­ing that the mayor, who is the main pro­po­nent of the pro­ject, is “con­fused” on the sys­tem.

“He him­self is also con­fused about BRT. That's the rea­son why he wants the Ban-Tal to be re­viewed. Maybe he re­al­ized BRT can­not work be­cause, for us, it won't re­ally work,” Dino said.

Dino did not fur­ther ex­plain his means and ways to can­cel the BRT, as he pointed out that the De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion is still “re­view­ing the pro­ject.”

Dino has been vo­cal about his crit­i­cisms on the BRT pro­ject af­ter the pre­sen­ta­tion of “trans­port expert” Rene San­ti­ago, who said the pro­ject will worsen the traf­fic con­ges­tion of the city which has nar­row roads.

Dino said no mat­ter how Os­meña re­views and mod­i­fies the BRT sys­tem, the pro­ject will not suc­ceed in a city that has nar­row roads.

“There's a fur­ther re­view of the pro­ject. When they see that it can­not work in Cebu, then it has to be can­celed,” Dino said.

Un­fazed by Dino's dis­ap­proval, Os­meña has said the city gov­ern­ment will con­tinue work­ing for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pro­ject.

“And then if you lis­ten to Dino, he says the study of DOTr might stop the im­ple­men­ta­tion. Is he the president?” the mayor said.

Os­meña said the Na­tional Eco­nomic and De­vel­op­ment Author­ity Board, which ap­proved the ad­di­tional P5.67 bil­lion bud­get for the lot ac­qui­si­tion of BRT pro­ject, is chaired by no less than President Ro­drigo Duterte.

Os­meña clar­i­fied that it was not dur­ing his term when the shared sys­tem along Ban-Tal was ap­proved.

“I don't like the shared sys­tem. I want ded­i­cated and oh, I see the light why don't they tell that to (for­mer mayor Michael) Rama? That was their ad­min­is­tra­tion,” he said.

UN­DER­PASS AS BRT LANE

Dur­ing his press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day, Os­meña also an­nounced that he will ask the De­part­ment of Pub­lic Works and High­ways-7 to as­sign the two-way 700-me­ter un­der­pass along Natalio Ba­calso Av­enue to be a ded­i­cated lane for BRT.

“Un­der the tun­nel, only the BRT bus, ded­i­cated,” the mayor told re­porters.

Sought for comment, DPWH-7 pro­ject en­gi­neer Roy dela Cruz said the pro­posal will be stud­ied by the re­gional di­rec­tor of DPWH, adding he will wait for the for­mal re­quest from the city gov­ern­ment.

Ini­tially, Dela Cruz said, only pri­vate ve­hi­cles will be al­lowed to tra­verse the un­der­pass.

He also said he has yet to con­sult lo­cal gov­ern­ment units about their po­si­tion on pro­vin­cial buses pass­ing through the un­der­pass.

“Sep­a­rate projects man na siya. When we pre­pared un­der­pass, I don't think we had the BRT in mind. But I'm sure we can work hand in hand as al­ways the case with the lo­cal gov­ern­ment,” he said.

Dela Cruz said the de­part­ment will also lis­ten to what the mayor will pro­pose.

He said the con­trac­tor of the un­der­pass has been work­ing on the pro­ject for over a month al­ready.

He said bored piles have al­ready been in­stalled and soil bor­ing test will be done soon.

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