Cebu News

CBRT role in Colon project questioned

Iris Hazel Mascardo - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The presentation that aims to revitalize Colon Street underwent scrutiny before the Cebu City Council during an executive session as questions were raised on the "participation" of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) management.

Last Thursday, June 13, 2024, an executive session was conducted where representatives from the Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO), as well as owners of the business establishments along Osmeña Boulevard, from P. del Rosario up to Plaza Independencia, and the church management of Basilica Minore Del Sto. Niño, were invited to discuss matters relative to the proposed plan for the CBRT Link to Port Urban Real Enhancement.

Engineer Norvin Imbong, CBRT Project Manager, presented the plans for the project, which according to him, came from the Cebu City Planning Department.

However, during the discussion, Majority Floor Leader Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera questioned the CBRT management’s lack of participation in the planning, highlighting what was presented seemed like a city’s vision of pedestrianization of the city roads.

“In a general principle, the council knew about the BRT project. However in terms of where your bus stop will be, the design, it was never presented, and now you're here, you are just talking about the arcaded sidewalk that I have also mentioned earlier as well," she told Imbong.

"But then there is really no concrete plan that you have presented that you are going to do in line with your project, the BRT," she added.

Imbong further elaborated plans, including having two lanes per side with bike lines per direction in the corner of P. Del Rosario going to the GV Tower, as well as an extended sidewalk. This will be then connected going to the Plaza Independencia with one lane per direction as it will also include an arcaded sidewalk, and bike lanes on both sides.

"When you say, imo ng i-implement, pasabot wala na mi mahimo?" Pesquera probed.

Imbong, however, clarified that they will not be implementing any of the said plans without the approval of the City Council and the Cebu City government hence the plan shall still be subject to change.

Imbong also assured that the stakeholders will also have a say in their proposal. He added that if they have apprehensions about implementing the pedestrianization, they can simulate the route by placing traffic cones first on the stretch included.

Pesquera also asked if the CBRT has conducted a vehicle count, and if it will raise the possibility of congestion of vehicles around the city. Imbong then clarified that such inhibitions are derived from the unimplemented Local Public Transport Route Plan (LPTRP).

Imbong also highlighted that in the said stretch for pedestrianization, no BRT buses will pass through and only Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs) and other modernized jeepneys.

But this only raised more questions from Pesquera, on why the CBRT management was involved in the said project.

"If walay BRT bus, nganong manghilabot man mo?" asked Pesquera. "Nganong kamo man ang mu implement nga CBRT man mo?” she added.

According to Imbong, based on the theory of their technical support consultant, they would only want to implement the pedestrianization of linkage from the port going to the historical district.

"If you don't want us to implement, then that is the say of the council," Imbong replied.

"I just find it weird that you are already encroaching that is beyond your scope of work," Pesquera retorted.

Imbong clarified that the Link to the Port is already a part of the CBRT project that is also subject to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) approval.

Pesquera quipped that the overall picture may not fit the “reality”.

In another presentation, Attorney Kent Jongoy, Assistant department head of the Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) said that with regards to the presentation of Imbong, they have only approved the asphalt overlay of the Link to the Port feature.

However, Jongoy said that the contractor has installed a light post, which has affected the traffic situation in the area. During the session, Jongoy presented a video before the council that showed installed and erected light posts along Osmeña Boulevard.

"This has taken away one lane," he said, adding that such installation hasn't been approved by the Traffic Council.

Jongoy also said that current plans for the Link to the Port will not only pose risks, but also traffic congestion in the area.

He added that they were waiting for the decision of the city mayor should the Link to the Port feature be pursued as the traffic council has assessed that this could only cause traffic congestion and hurt the existing routes.

"We already deliberated and discussed this thing at the TMC, and we will be furnishing a copy to the office of the mayor,” said Jongoy. (CEBU NEWS)

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