BRT delayed for 3 yrs now
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
A look at traffic on Osmeña Boulevard in Cebu City during rush hours of the day.