Cebu News

City Council asks NEDA, DOTr: Stop CBRT civil works

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol, Iris Hazel Mascardo - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista and Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama are expected to meet this morning to tackle pressing issues concerning the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) and the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) project, among other concerns.

This, as the Cebu City Council last Wednesday urged the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board and DOTr to temporarily suspend civil works relating to the CBRT Packages 2, 3, 4 for six months.

It came following a privilege speech by City Councilor James Anthony Cuenco, committee on transportation chairman, who presented the opinions of transportation experts that the Council invited to an executive session, days earlier to discuss whether the CBRT is still viable.

With their inputs being considered, Cuenco proposed the suspension of Packages 2, 3, and 4 upon the completion of the ongoing Package 1,

which consists of the portion from the Capitol to the Cebu South Bust Terminal, that the Council, as a body, approved.

The City Council likewise urged the Office of the Mayor to convene a CBRT Technical Working Group to discuss the option of a City-operated trial run of a CBRT route from Bulacao to Ayala Center Cebu while Packages 2, 3, and 4 of the CBRT are suspended.

"We already have the infrastructure for Package 1. Now what we have to do, while it (Packages 2, 3, 4) is suspended, it will take six months, we have to set up the Ayala to Bulacao Road. Only six months, we don't have to wait for long," Cuenco said, during a discussion.

With City Councilors Nestor Archival, Sr.; Joy Young; Jose Lorenzo Abellanosa; and Mary Ann de los Santos objecting against the suspension and Frankly Ong abstaining, the Council approved Cuenco’s motion.

On his meeting with Sec. Bautista, Mayor Rama is hoping for a very fruitful discussion and peaceful resolution on the issues about CPA and the CBRT.

Concerning the CBRT, Package 2 suffered further delays after the Cebu Provincial Government led by Governor Gwendolyn Garcia expressed objection to the building of a station in front of the Capitol building, for heritage preservation.

Sec. Bautista is also expected to personally check the project, although it will depend on how the discussions with Mayor Rama will go.

Engr. Norvin Imbong, CBRT project manager, have also been invited to the meeting. He, however, told The Freeman that as of press time, he has yet to get instructions from his superiors to do so.

While the construction works of the station at the Capitol area has been put on hold at the moment, Imbong said he was hoping that they can already proceed working on other areas under Package 1, like drainage, street lightings, and pavement among others.


For sure, Rama would bring up in the meeting Capitol officials objecting to the CBRT.

In an executive session, last April 3, Engr. Nigel Paul Villarete, former manager of the Mactan Cebu International Airport, and Transportation Consultant. Rene Santiago, whom Cuenco said has been advocating for the realignment of the project, spoke about the CBRT.

During his privilege speech two days ago, Cuenco summarized the highlights of the executive session and laid down the “misconceptions” about the project.

He said that the CBRT could have been elsewhere and not through Osmeña Boulevard and the Capitol.

He also said Package 1 is too short and cramped and with too many crosswalks, affecting the efficiency of the CBRT system.

He likewise said that the BRT stations could have used simpler designs, “like a waiting shed”, which could save time and money.

He also spoke contrary to the claim of former mayor Tomas Osmeña, who said stopping the CBRT would lead to getting blacklisted by donor nations.

"However, in recent history, two foreign state loans were canceled without any negative repercussions, while one foreign state loan expired without much huffing and puffing like what’s being displayed by our officials right now," Cuenco said.

"Contrary to popular belief, big ticket projects are often halted when they prove unfeasible in recent years. One was in 2016, and one even from last year," he added.

Another misconception, he said, is that too much resources were already spent the country can no longer afford to halt the project.

Cuenco said that road right of way acquisitions were not done yet so a large chunk of the funds is not spent yet.

"With no letter offers, none of the lots have been sold and half of the project budget has in fact not been spent. The only resource we have wasted – as it is apparent – is our time," he said. — (FREEMAN)

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