Sun.Star Cebu

BRT scrap­ping and a ghost

- Cebu City · National Economic and Development Authority · Internationaler Strafgerichtshof · World Bank · Carlos Dominguez · Tomas Osmeña

The rec­om­men­da­tion by Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Arthur Tu­gade and Pres­i­den­tial Ad­viser for the Visayas Michael Dino to cancel Cebu’s Bus Rapid Tran­sit (BRT) project was made in a let­ter to Fi­nance Sec­re­tary Car­los Dominguez dated April 11, 2018. Aside from out­lin­ing the rea­sons for the rec­om­men­da­tion, Tu­gade and Dino promised “a re­place­ment project su­pe­rior to the BRT.”

Tu­gade’s and Dino’s ar­gu­ments for the scrap­ping of the BRT are but re­it­er­a­tions of the pub­lic crit­i­cisms raised against the project months af­ter it got the ap­proval of var­i­ous govern­ment agen­cies, in­clud­ing the Na­tional Eco­nomic and De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity’s In­vest­ment Co­or­di­na­tion Com­mit­tee (NEDA-ICC).

Which begs the ques­tion of whether years of study and re­view could be ne­gated by johnny-come-lately ques­tions and ar­gu­ments. And this: have the BRT pro­po­nents and the ap­prov­ing govern­ment agen­cies an­swered well the con­cerns raised in pub­lic by the BRT crit­ics?

The point is that pub­lic sup­port can fuel the re­solve of those who want the project scut­tled, which is pre­cisely why the crit­i­cisms were made pub­lic.

For­tu­nately, the ar­gu­ments raised by Tu­gade and Dino will even­tu­ally be an­swered by con­cerned en­ti­ties, like the NEDA-ICC. Per­haps NEDA Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Ernesto Per­nia, who is­sued a state­ment fa­vor­able to the BRT project re­cently, can ex­pound on the is­sue to Dominguez. Scrap­ping a ma­jor project that is about to be im­ple­mented in­stead of merely ad­dress­ing the con­cerns raised against it and pro­ceed­ing with the project im­ple­men­ta­tion is bad man­age­ment.

Worse is when such a ma­jor project is scrapped based on a neb­u­lous prom­ise. Tu­gade and Dino, in their let­ter to Dominguez, failed to spec­ify the promised “re­place­ment project su­pe­rior to the BRT.” Are they re­fer­ring to the light rail tran­sit (LRT) project openly sup­ported by Dino? If it is the LRT, how can it be “su­pe­rior” to the World Bank-fa­vored BRT in ev­ery com­pa­ra­ble as­pect? De­tails. De­tails.

In a way, Cebu City Mayor To­mas Os­meña was right. How could an al­ready funded and about to be im­ple­mented project be re­placed by what so far sounds like a ghost?

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