Construction seen to start in early 2019: LRT in Cebu by next year
May B. Miasco, Odessa O. Leyson (The Freeman) - April 16, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — If all goes according to plan, the proposed Light Rail Transit (LRT) project in Metro Cebu will begin construction by 2019.

In a press release dated April 15, the consortium that will develop the project said it “expects to complete the process with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) this year” and to start construction by early next year once all permits and other documents are completed.

The consortium is composed of local and foreign companies.

Its representative, Chris Kou, said the proponents started the process with DOTr in the last quarter of 2017.

He said the proposal presented by the group led by Tjen Hian Ka, the consortium's senior consultant, to the national government through DOTr is to build the LRT through a design-finance-build-transfer and manage project.

“The proposal is to build an elevated LRT with a subway section at the central business district of Cebu City,” Kou said.

Significantly, Kou said Tjen’s group also took into account the projected ridership for the next 50 years. The current road networks are also considered.

“In a project like LRT, we need to look forward and consult with the planning experts. In the implementation stage, we have to see to it that disturbance is lesser and inconvenience to existing road users and residents in the metropolis are respected,” he said.

Tjen is senior director of SAA Architects Pte Ltd (Singapore) and a recognized personality in architectural industry in Singapore and China. The firm focuses on transportation and integrated development projects and completed various scales of metro rail and light rail projects in different countries in Asia.

Proponents marked the estimate cost of the LRT project to $3 billion (US dollars).

Engr. Manuel Jamonir, business development manager of Udenna Infrastructure Corp., said the project will be constructed with no cost or “zero” cost to the government.

He added that the LRT will be operated without government subsidy and without government guarantee.

Jamonir assured of its high quality given the active participation of Udenna Group under Dennis Uy’s leadership.

Kou said Metro Cebu’s LRT will be funded through the “One Belt One Road” program of the Chinese government.

The project, he added, is supported by Chinese companies, namely: Guangzhou Metro China; Guangzhou Metro & Design Institute China; Anhui Shengyun Environmental Protection Group Co (China); Guangdong Hydropower Co. Ltd. China; Harvest Global Investment Pte Ltd, Singapore; and Sinophile Sheng Yun Management Inc. (Philippines).

The project will be implemented in two phases.

Jamonir said the first phase will substantially cover the entire Metro Cebu where the line will start from Carcar City in the south to Danao City in the north, and vice versa.

“For the first time, Cebu City will have a rail transport that will run in a subway system. Beyond Cebu City, the LRT will go above ground to minimize utilization of the existing roads for the columns of the rail system’s infrastructure,” he said.

Kou said the first phase will comprise of two lines, the Central Line and second the Airport Line, which will have a bridge crossing from Cebu’s mainland to Mactan Island.

The first phase of the project will also establish a research, development, and technical support center that will train local skills related to rail eco-system.

Meanwhile, the second phase will be the commuter rail. Its implementation will be subject to several factors like economic, population, and future modern transport needs, among others.

He said the project’s first phase will be constructed within the shortest possible time, with all site works targeted for completion by 2022.

Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera is glad of the development.

"In fact, that was agreed to be the mode of mass transit that will connect Talisay, Cebu, Mandaue, and Consolacion. JICA called it the 1st Corridor. It’s a 21km route but Mayor Tomas Osmeña insists on BRT so the LRT project didn't materialize because the mayor was adamant about it," he said.

“Ang importante, ang upat ka LGUs mag-connect aron dili na mudala sa sakyanan nga nagdungag sa traffic sa siyudad kay naa may LRT. Naghinakug man atong mayor ug wala makig-alayon nilang Mayor Gullas, Ouano niadtong mga panahona," Garganera said.

Osmeña chose not to comment. (FREEMAN)

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