EDITORIAL - Bridge safety must come first
(The Freeman) - December 6, 2015 - 9:00am

Local officials from both Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City are asking the Department of Public Works and Highways to defer the scheduled maintenance repairs set to be undertaken on the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge, at least until after two major celebrations that are expected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to Cebu -- the feast of the Santo Niño and the Sinulog festival, and the International Eucharistic Congress immediately thereafter.

Considering that the celebrations will mainly be in Cebu City on the mainland, and many of the visitors will be from other parts of the country and the world who will mostly be coming in through the Mactan Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu City on Mactan Island, it makes sense indeed to keep the bridge open to traffic until after the celebrations.

Considering further that the repairs are expected to last for a long time, it also makes good business sense to allow those who will be affected by the closure ample time to make adjustments to their schedules and operations. The impact of the closure on businesses, government, and even individual persons will be considerable and stressful.

But there is another side to the issue that simply cannot be ignored by everyone concerned. Let any rescheduling of repairs, if possible, not come at the expense of the safety of everyone. Let the final decision on whether or not to postpone the repairs be made not by politicians and influential business leaders but by the engineering experts.

Such safety depends entirely on the integrity of the 43-year-old bridge, built by then President Marcos in 1972. It cannot be compromised by anything, not even huge and important religious celebrations. Those who are structural experts should have the final say. Let us hear from them first, and if they say the bridge can still take a few more weeks or months of maintenance postponement, then well and good.

But if the people who know what they are talking about put there foot and say the bridge cannot take any more stress without the required maintenance and repairs, then their word must prevail and must be respected by everyone, including officials who may outrank them. This is not the time nor the occasion to pull rank or push weight.

A lot of news stories have been written about the impending closures, as well as of the reaction of government officials and how they wish the repairs could be reset in order for the scheduled celebrations to take place first. Again, their pleadings do make sense from where they sit. Unfortunately, this matter is not up for political decisions. The matter requires an expert judgment call.

 

ATILDE CEBU CITY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS AND HIGHWAYS INTERNATIONAL EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS LAPU CITY LAPU-LAPU CITY MACTAN CEBU INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT MACTAN ISLAND MANDAUE-MACTAN BRIDGE PRESIDENT MARCOS SANTO NI
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