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Cebu News

Setbacks too: CH to recover city sidewalks

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  The Cebu City government will soon embark on a massive recovery of setbacks and sidewalks in the city as part of its continuing effort to achieve Mayor Michael Rama’s Singapore-like vision.

Rama said he will soon issue another executive order to recover the sidewalks and for all structures to have a proper setback. 

“I will be making an executive order bringing focus recovery of setback and sidewalk…and I need all of them,” said Rama.

A setback or easement is the minimum open space required around any building or structure. This is necessary to ensure that the structure stays away from roads, water bodies or other buildings. Setbacks in buildings are required at their front, rear and sides, and the specifications vary from one area to another.     

According to Rama, this will help improve the flow of vehicle traffic and the pedestrians, especially in areas where traffic congestion is a problem like the Banilad-Talamban corridor.

In fact, Rama said he had asked Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia for the Capitol’s Ciudad project along the Ban-Tal corridor to provide enough setback.

“I had a talk with the Governor, and she allowed…She agreed that the Ciudad property will do the setback in that corridor,” Rama said.

The mayor said he had asked businessman Bunny Pages and the other members of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) about his plan. He eyed Gorordo Avenue, Salinas Drive, and that of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Central Visayas (TEDSA-7) as pilot areas.

Rama said he intends to do it all the way up to Talamban and vowed that there will be no “sacred cows.”

List down easement violators

Meanwhile, all river commanders have been ordered to identify all residents and businesses in their assigned areas.

To recall, at least eight city officials were designated as river commanders for each of the city’s major rivers. These commanders are given the authority to hold meetings with barangay officials and their assigned departments, as well as to supervise and monitor operations related to the river rehabilitation activities.

The commanders are lawyer Gerry Carillo for the Bulacao River; Grace Luardo, Kinalumsan River; Dr. Ester Concha, Tagunol Creek; Engr. Rolando Ardosa, Guadalupe River; Paul Gotiong, Mahiga River; Engr. Joelito Baclayon, Lahug River; Raquel Arce, Estero Pari-an; and Arlie Gesta, Butuanon River.

Former environment secretary Roy Cimatu, chairman of the city’s Task Force Gubat sa Baha in a meeting, made the instruction for the river commanders to come up with the list and submit it to the group.

This is for the city government to have a list of those who actually violated the three-meter easement rule for waterways so they could also have an estimate of the number of beneficiaries for the socialized housing program.

Carillo said the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP) was also directed to validate the list that will be submitted by all river commanders.

The DWUP and Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) will identify potential sites for the construction of medium-rise buildings (MRBs), which will serve as shelter for those who will be displaced by clearing operations.

In the said meeting, the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) also presented a general plan for the entire Gubat sa Baha program.

Architect Joseph Michael “Yumi” Espina, head of the CPDO, said that they identified a priority list of the rivers based on four factors— approximate flooded area, population, land use type, and river condition. The Kinalumsan River was identified as the top priority per their assessment.

Next on the list, in order, Lahug-Kamputhaw River, Estero de Parian, Mahiga River, Cogon Pardo-Bulacao River, Guadalupe River, and Butuanon River.

Carillo said the task force has also requested the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to set aside 50 hectares of foreshore land at the back of the South Road Properties (SRP) as location for more MRBs.

CPDO added that the city would also have to establish temporary housing on a three-hectare property at the SRP. The task force is also planning to engage a consultant in the preparation of an “Integrated Water Supply, Drainage and Sewage Masterplan” to complement the Department of Public Works and Highways’ “Drainage Masterplan”.- Mary Ruth R. Malinao, FPL (FREEMAN)

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