Cuenco: I don’t think DOTr can deliver BRT promise on time
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City Councilor James Cuenco said the Department of Transportation (DOTr) may be shooting too far in their promise to bring the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system to be partially operational in December 2021.
Cuenco met with DOTr engineers to discuss the updates on the projects and he formed the impression that it will be impossible to fulfill this promise due to problems in certain steps needed prior to civil works.
“The thing is, according to them, paningkamutan nila ang target nga December 2021, kaning initial roll-out. The problem is, daghan silag target karong May nga wala pa nahitabo,” he said.
For one, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is asking for the scope and cost of the project. The agency has also updated the implementation plan, which is currently being worked by the technical service consultant.
This process was supposed to be done by this month but has not yet been completed.
Second, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is asking for a program’s funds for later release and Cuenco found out the funds have not yet been downloaded because of the lack of NEDA’s approval for the scope and cost.
Third, even the bidding of the Package One of the BRT is not over as there are two qualified bidders eyeing the project that need to be evaluated.
Yet even if the bidding is completed, Cuenco said that if NEDA has not yet approved the scope and cost and the funds are not downloaded, the contractor cannot start working on Package One.
“It’s a very tight leash. Nakaingon ko nga di na magexpect ani nga mahuman nig December. Why only now, nganong karon raman mo nagfollow up aning mga butanga?” said Cuenco.
The councilor pointed out that the City Council had been approving plans on the BRT despite the constant changes in the plans, and he is disappointed that the crucial processes to get the project started is causing another delay.
Cuenco was told that the Cebu Office cannot do anything on the project because the national government is handling the processes of the project.
“When Secretary Tugade came here in Cebu last week, he told the engineers in DOTr that you better finish this by December of this year or else ‘malalagot kayo sa akin.’ That was what he said, but the way things are going right now, doubtful kaayo nga mahuman na by December,” said the councilor.
The councilor expressed his disappointment that a project awaited by Cebuanos for decades is once again delayed and people expecting to finally see a partially operational BRT by Christmas will not get to do so.
He urged the DOTr to be transparent in their processes to the public so the people will know what they are expecting.
Furthermore, he appeals to the DOTr to hasten the processing of the funds because without it there will be no BRT project.
The councilor hopes that even if the project will not be technically operational by December 2021, the delay will also not take more than a few months. /rcg
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