An LRT for Cebu that's too good to be true?
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit Avila (The Freeman) - April 17, 2018 - 12:00am

Kudos to Mr. Frederick Go on the occasion of his appointment and installation as Honorary Consul to Latvia by Honorary Consulate of Latvia Mr. Roberto Lim "Bobby" Joseph at the Summit A Ballroom of Summit Hotel Cebu in Robinson's Galleria Cebu tonight at 7 p.m. It is indeed a great honor to represent a country and its people through becoming an honorary consul of a particular place, in this case the Republic of Latvia.


While the debate continues whether the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project should be allowed to continue or whether it's relevant in today's times when traffic has become so messy in Cebu, The FREEMAN headlined something of a big breaking news; that a consortium of foreign and national companies has proposed a Light Rail Transit (LRT) project in Metro Cebu where they propose to start construction by 2019!

According to the consortium's representative, Mr. Chris Kou, the consortium is led by Tjen Hian Ka and they propose to build an elevated LRT similar to Metro Manila's LRT and a subway section for the central business district of Cebu City. Tjen is a senior director of SAA Architects Pte. Ltd (Singapore) and a recognized personality in the architectural industry in Singapore and China. Metro Cebu's LRT will be funded through the "One Belt One Road" program of the Chinese government and it will be at no cost to the Philippine government. Sounds too good to be true?

Indeed, I have no doubt that the consortium has studied all the angles in developing an LRT for Cebu. What entices me is their proposal for a subway section within the Cebu City business district, which addresses many concerns. But above all, a subway for Cebu City is perfect in the sense that this project can move faster without any Road-Right-of-Way delays, which is the number one problem in road widening.

I will have to check in the internet who are the companies involved in this consortium and I expect certain personalities to block this project. I can already see Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña feeling "threatened" by the LRT because it could diminish the need for the BRT which he has promoted so heavily.

From the report, we learned that this project is supported by Chinese companies Guangzhou Metro China, Guangzhou Metro & Design Institute China, Anhui Shengyun Environmental Protection Group Co (China), Guangdong Hydropower Co. Ltd. China, Harvest Global Investment Pte. Ltd. Singapore, and Sinophile Sheng Yun Management Inc. (Philippines). Of course when it comes to railways, Filipinos have yet to learn how to trust Chinese companies.

But in fairness to the Chinese railway companies, the last time I was in China was during the Shanghai Expo where we took the 19-mile trip using the State-of-the-Art MagLev Train from downtown Shanghai to the Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Maglev stands for magnetic levitation, which doesn't use traditional rails, but a magnetic field that raises the train a few inches and there is no friction anymore. So let's not belittle the Chinese technology when it comes to railways.

The beauty of this project is that, it revives the old Cebu railway system (which the American planes bombed during World War II) which starts from Carcar City all the way to Danao City. This is a north to south corridor in the Province of Cebu that is so traffic congested. So in the end, this Chinese consortium brings a fresh hope that Cebu Province will have a mass transit system in the near future. Lest you do not realize, whenever the debate about having a BRT is discussed in the media, especially on radio, the people living outside Cebu City change to other radio stations simply because they are not part of the BRT, so why bother?

But like what I said, this project sounds too good to be true in the sense that it is a dream come true for Cebu to have a mass transit system from Carcar to Danao. But this proposal is still in the drawing board and since there is no cost to the government, we would like to find out how much would the fares be from Carcar to Cebu City or from Danao to Cebu City after it is completed. Abangan!


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