Will Rama allow the use of another SRP lot for BRT?
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has always been vocal about his views on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) especially on the changes made by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on the long-overdue project.
Rama had wanted the original route from Barangay Bulacao to Fuente Osmeña to push through since it was the original plan over ten years ago. Yet he understood the need for the changes and once urged the DOTr to hasten the project.
When he was still the vice mayor before the death of late Mayor Edgardo Labella, Rama had criticized the changes in the plans especially the use of certain lots in the South Road Properties (SRP) for the depot and terminal of the BRT.
This time, as Rama ascended the mayoral position, he will be signing the deed of usufruct to DOTr for the use of the lots, if the City Council will give him the authority.
In an interview with CDN Digital on February 10, 2022, Rama said that he is yet to receive authorization to sign a deed of usufruct for a 1.6-hectare property in the SRP to be used as a terminal.
The City Council had already previously allowed the use of a 2-hectare property at the SRP for the BRT depot. At that time, Rama, who was then vice mayor, questioned the necessity of giving or lending the property to DOTr.
Now the Council is once again debating if the city needs to provide the land for the terminal, and minority floor leader Councilor Nestor Archival is not convinced especially since there is a realignment in the BRT plans.
Archival said that the City Council must be appraised on the use of this 1.6-hectare lot, which could potentially value around P15 billion because once the deed of usufruct is signed, the city may not be able to utilize the lot other than it being a terminal in the future.
He requested his fellow council members not to hurry in giving the authorization before all things are settled including the requirements for the deed of usufruct and clarification on the realignment.
The Council refused to give the authorization last February 9, 2022, as they agreed to meet with DOTr representatives, BRT consultants, and other related agencies with regards to the updates on the project through an executive session on February 17, 2022.
Rama said that he will respect and possibly abide by the decision of the City Council when they make such authorization.
However, the mayor said that he will not immediately sign the deed of usufruct without seeing for himself the content of such a contract.
Just as he had been critical about the project’s changes in the past, he will also be critical now as the mayor of the city.
“As the mayor I don’t want to be obstructing. But if I get a chance of refinement or changes in the mayor’s end I will do. That’s why I have to read before I will sign and even get the opinion of City Legal,” he told CDN Digital.
Rama said he understands the project is now in the work, but he is not giving up on the possibility that the Bulacao to Fuente Osmeña route will be prioritized in the phasing just as that of the SRP to Fuente Osmeña route.
For the mayor, he stands by his view years ago that the BRT must serve the residents along the national highway where the BRT is needed the most.
“I am wishing that they do not disregard the original plan,” he said.
As to whether he will be signing the deed of usufruct, Rama said that he will make up his own mind when it arrives on his table, as he can always choose not to sign it even with the authorization of the council if he still has uncertainties about the contract. /rcg
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