Cebu News

Tom slams Rama’s plan to take down skywalks

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  Former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña has criticized anew Mayor Michael Rama, this time over the latter’s plan to remove all skywalks in the city and have underground pedestrian crossings instead.

"The declaration of Mike Rama to destroy all the skywalks is a reflection of his incompetence,” Osmeña said, adding that it will take a decade for the realization of underpasses.

Rama has earlier said that he will have all skywalks removed, after having two skywalks along Osmeña Blvd initially taken down as part of the plan of the implementation of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) project.

“Tanang nga mga skywalks, right now, I will have it all removed, one after the other,” said Rama in his regular program over the city’s Sugboanon channel.

Rama said he feels the skywalks no longer serve their purpose and instead have been an area for vagrancy and public nuisance.

With this, Rama proposes for underground pedestrian crossings instead, as inspired by successful models in cities like Hong Kong, Melbourne, Boston, even in Quiapo in Manila, and in similar practices observed globally.

Rama said subterranean pathways would not only alleviate congestion, but also enhance safety and accessibility for pedestrians.

Rama also cited that skywalks also block some parts of sidewalks or are encroaching other properties.

In line with the City’s planned transformation, Rama said urban landscape has to be more accessible and pedestrian-friendly.

However, Osmeña said this only adds burden to the public.

“How are pedestrians supposed to cross the street? Underpasses he says. But that will take him about ten years,” Osmeña said, as he also mentioned Rama’s opposition to the construction of overpasses as proposed by the late Congressman Raul del Mar.

“He said the alternative is "flared intersections”…It’s been five years since then and he hasn’t even started to build even the first one,” Osmeña pointed out.

“Building underpasses is more troublesome than flaring intersections because you have to build (while) avoiding water pipes and drainage. You also have to install pumps to prevent flooding. Worst of all, you would have to close the road during the construction,” said Osmeña.

Osmeña noted that it's better to redesign the current skywalks’ stairs than take it down.

“A practical alternative is to rebuild the stairs of existing skywalks to reduce the slope to 6-8 percent like they did in Bogota, Columbia...I have personally seen children easily climbing even with school bags. Same with elderly,” Osmeña said.

Further Osmeña objects that Mayor Rama is a visionary.

“It takes people with vision to help people with dreams. Mike Rama is not one of them,” ended Osmeña.

Rama, for his part, said he does not want to comment on those trying to destroy him – including former mayor Osmeña – and instead offers prayers for them. — Caecent No-ot Magsumbol

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