BRT de­layed for 3 yrs now

The Freeman - - FRONT PAGE - Jean Marvette A. De­me­cillo Mitchelle L. Palaub­sanon Staff Mem­bers

Im­ple­men­ta­tion of the multi­bil­lion­peso Cebu Bus Rapid Tran­sit (BRT) project has been de­layed for three years al­ready, Cebu City Ad­min­is­tra­tor Nigel Paul Vil­larete said.

He said that after the project's ex­e­cu­tion was handed over to the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion (DOTr), the city gov­ern­ment has not been in­formed of the project's new time­line.

“BRT is de­layed by at least three years al­ready. This year alone, 2018, is one de­lay be­cause they stopped ev­ery­thing end of 2017, and worked for can­cel­la­tion by April. So sad and such a pity for us Ce­buanos since we have to wait longer and longer,” Vil­larete told The FREE­MAN in a text mes­sage yes­ter­day.

The project was first de­ferred in 2013, and suf­fered fur­ther de­lay be­cause of the change in ad­min­is­tra­tion in 2016.

It can be re­called that the DOTr and the Of­fice of the Pres­i­den­tial As­sis­tant for Visayas (OPAV) moved for the can­cel­la­tion of the project in April this year, cit­ing the city's nar­row roads, among other rea­sons.

How­ever, the Na­tional Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity-In­vest­ment Co­or­di­na­tion Com­mit­tee-Cab­i­net Com­mit­tee still green-lighted the P16.3-bil­lion project amid op­po­si­tions.

With this, Mayor Tomas Os­meña re­quested DOTr in July to pro­vide the city with the re­vised time­line and sched­ule of the project ac­tiv­i­ties.

The re­sponse? None as of yes­ter­day, a good five months after the re­quest was made.

“We don't have any of­fi­cial in­for­ma­tion on the sta­tus of the project,” Vil­larete said.

Vil­larete said the city has not also been in­formed if the BRT-Project Im­ple­men­ta­tion Unit (PIU) has been re-in­sti­tuted since all ser­vices of em­ploy­ees were not re­newed by DOTr ear­lier this year.

He said the city only learned in a meet­ing last Oc­to­ber that DOTr had tapped the ser­vices of tech­ni­cal sup­port con­sul­tants and so­cial man­age­ment con­sul­tants, which were pre­vi­ously stopped.

“Other than that, we are clue­less as to what are be­ing done be­cause (nei­ther) DOTr nor the PIU, if it was re­con­sti­tuted al­ready, has not com­mu­ni­cated to us yet. We would be very happy when things get mov­ing faster but we re­ally hope they will co­or­di­nate with us, too, as what they have been do­ing since the start of the project,” he said.

Vil­larete said he is hop­ing that the DOTr will up­date the city gov­ern­ment on the de­vel­op­ments since the Ce­buanos are the ma­jor stake­hold­ers and ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the project.

BRT, LRT BY 2020?

Last Fri­day, DOTr Sec­re­tary Arthur Tu­gade and OPAV chief Michael Lloyd Dino met with tech­ni­cal ser­vice con­sul­tants of Cebu Light Rail and BRT in line with the Cebu In­te­grated and In­ter­modal Trans­port Sys­tem Project.

In its of­fi­cial Face­book page, DOTr stated that it was agreed dur­ing the meet­ing that the first phase of CBRT and CLRT, in­clud­ing its com­mon sta­tion, will be op­er­a­tional by 2020.

OPAV, in a sep­a­rate post, also stated that “LRT will be the back­bone of an in­te­grated in­ter-modal trans­port sys­tem. The first phase of the project will have an LRT and a high pri­or­ity bus sys­tem that will act as a feeder line to the LRT. It will also in­clude a com­mon sta­tion.”

“This will be the first LRT out­side Metro Manila. This is for the ben­e­fit of Cebu and Ce­buanos. Dili ni pamoli­tika akoa,” said Dino in an in­ter­view with The FREE­MAN.

Dino said he is glad that the LRT project is go­ing to be im­ple­mented dur­ing the term of Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, stress­ing that it will help ease Metro Cebu's traf­fic woes.

On Fri­day, Os­meña once again took to Face­book to slam what he said was Dino's par­tic­i­pa­tion in stalling and de­lay­ing the BRT im­ple­men­ta­tion.

WHAT NEXT YEAR?

Vil­larete said he is cer­tain that LRT can­not start op­er­a­tions next year, con­trary to DOTr and OPAV state­ments.

“I'm will­ing to bet my pro­fes­sional rep­u­ta­tion on that. If they can have com­mer­cial LRT op­er­a­tions by 2020, I will re­sign from my job. Let's not fool the peo­ple with prom­ises we can­not keep. No FS (fea­si­bil­ity study) has been com­pleted yet, be it an LRT (by Tranzen), a mono­rail (by Philtram) or the LRT+sub­way (by Udenna),” he said.

Even if one can be sub­mit­ted to DOTr in 2019, Vil­larete said, it still needs to go through the NEDA-ICC process. What­ever per­mu­ta­tions will take be­tween six months to one year, plus an­other process that in­cludes de­tailed en­gi­neer­ing de­sign (DED), pro­cure­ment, fi­nan­cial close, be­fore con­struc­tion could start.—/JMD

FILE PHOTO

A look at traf­fic on Os­meña Boule­vard in Cebu City dur­ing rush hours of the day.

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