Freeman Cebu Business

Lack of political will deters Cebu projects

Carlo S. Lorenciana - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu’s inefficient public transport system is what’s making it fall behind other countries, and it all boils down to lack of political will, a business leader said.

"That's still political will," said Robert Go, chair of the Regional Development Council's Economic Development Committee, when asked what Cebu lacks to hardly replicate the public transport system of Singapore and Hong Kong, to which Cebu is often compared.

The two global cities are widely recognized for their efficient public transportation networks.

While in Cebu, commuters only rely on public utility jeepneys as the main mode of public transport.

"They (Singapore and Hong Kong) have public transport systems that are very efficient than a car," said Go, also president of Philippine Retailers Association-Cebu, in an interview with The FREEMAN.

The train and bus systems in Singapore, for instance, make the movement of people faster, preventing traffic problem from occurring. People there, Go said, prefer to take these public vehicles as they are fast and reliable.

"If we have all those transport systems (in Cebu), then people would rather take public transport than bring their own car," Go stressed.

While the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system has already been approved, Go lamented that its actual implementation has also taken so long.  

It was earlier reported that the procurement of materials and services for the P10.6-billion project could start before the May 9 elections.

The BRT project is designed to solve Cebu's worsening traffic problem.

Adding  to  traffic woes

Aside from the increasing number of cars, adding to Cebu's traffic congestion woes are the road repair projects, which usually take long to finish.

In terms of infrastructure development, Go believed that "politics" may have influenced the implementation of projects. 

"We are not poor in planning — we have lots of plan — but we are poor in implementation," the businessman emphasized.

For instance, Go said that a new Cebu international container port has been planned many years ago, when the Japan International Cooperation Agency first conducted a study on it.

But it's only now that the plan is quite clear already.

In December 2015, the RDC in Central Visayas announced the construction of the P9-billion new port may start in August this year and is targeted to be completed by second quarter of 2019. The project is to be funded through an official development assistance (ODA).

For public transport, Go said Cebu should also have a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system. He recalled that when he was president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2005, there was a private company that offered to undertake an LRT project from the cities of Talisay to Mandaue.

But unfortunately, it did not push through because of no funding from the government, he said.

"We need a public transport that can support us (our growth)," he said.

The official stressed that Cebu really needs "champions" and political will to realize the good infrastructure projects being planned for it. (FREEMAN)

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