Rama, village chiefs cite lack of consultation on underpass
A group of Cebu City south barangay officials are complaining against the lack of consultation in the implementation of the underpass project along N. Bacalso Avenue as well as the traffic rerouting dry run which started yesterday.
Accompanied by former Cebu City mayor Michael Rama, the barangay captains of Poblacion Pardo, Mambaling and Inayawan held a press conference on Wednesday morning, a few hours after the rerouting dry run began.
“I’d like to be very clear that Barug (formerly Team Rama) is not against development. It’s just that we’re too concerned, very much concerned, on how the traffic and how all of us should be prepared for it,” Rama told reporters.
Earlier this week, Rama also met with Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella and other Team Rama councilors about the concerns but learned that the Cebu City Council was also not apprised about the project’s implementation, he said.
Rama recalled that during his time as mayor, he asked the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 to put the P683-million underpass project at the intersection of N. Bacalso Ave. and F. Llamas St. on hold due to some concerns such as the need to widen alternative roads.
Diversionary roads like Tagunol St. and E. Sabellano St., Rama said, should first be widened and improved by DPWH-7 before implementing the project which was being pushed for, at the time, by Cebu City South District Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa.
Although he is no longer the city’s chief executive, Rama said that as a resident of Barangay Basak San Nicolas, one of eight villages directly affected by the project, he still wanted to be consulted and apprised about its implementation.
After all, he added, he was also the mayor for two terms.
Rama and the barangay captains lamented that they were not invited to attend a stakeholders’ meeting called by DPWH-7 last week where a briefing on the project and the traffic rerouting scheme was held with different representatives.
Rama said that after reading about the project in the newspapers, he called DPWH-7 Regional Director Ador Canlas requesting to be briefed personally about it.
For her part, Poblacion Pardo Barangay Captain Altea Lim said they never knew anything about the project until they were given leaflets about the rerouting to be implemented in the area.
“It could have been consulted first before implementation. The people were not notified. I am not against the project, but there should be proper dissemination on the details of the project and not just the implementation of the dry run,” she said.
Lim pointed out that barangays officials are, after all, the ones who directly accept complaints from people regarding the inconvenience which may be caused by the project.
This was echoed by Mambaling Barangay Captain Willy Go who said that they were also only told about the dates of the rerouting dry run.
A project of this scale, he said, should be disseminated as widely as possible as it would not just take weeks or months but years to implement.
Inayawan Barangay Captain Lotlot Ignacio-Soon said that while her barangay may not be among those directly affected by the project, they still need to be consulted.
“Maybe they think that we are not affected. But our constituents are affected. Those going to and from Inayawan will have to pass by the area also,” she said.
The barangay officials plan to bring up their concerns during the next meeting of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) later this month.
Sought for comment, DPWH-7 Project Engineer Roy dela Cruz belied claims that the officials were not invited to an earlier consultation meeting with different sectors.
Dela Cruz claimed that formal invitations were sent out to all barangays near the project site although this was done on short notice.
DPWH, he said, also plans to formally present the project to the City Council next week even though the project, according to Dela Cruz, no longer needs the council’s approval after it was given the green light by Mayor Tomas Osmeña and the Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO).
“We are already coordinating with the office of Councilor Dave Tumulak,” said Dela Cruz.
Tumulak, he said, advised them to submit a letter to the City Council including a soft copy of the traffic scheme for the dry run.
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