BRT scrapping and a ghost
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?