BRT update: Where is the project at?
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is one of the major projects in Cebu City that has been a center of public concern, scrutiny, and political debates.
Recently, Cebu City Councilor Nestor Archival expressed in a media forum, his doubts over the project’s new alignment, which changed the original Bulacao-Mambaling route of the BRT plan to the now Mambaling-SRP route.
The councilor said that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is wasting time having the new plans approved when there is already a plan set in place approved by the National Economic Development Authority in 2016.
He also criticized Phase One of the project, which runs from the South Bus Terminal at Natalio Bacalso Avenue to IT Park in Barangay Apas, saying that the route missed the bulk of passengers in Bulacao in the south and Talamban in the north.
“Kinsay may nag-atang ana nga mga area? Asa man diay naghulat ang mga pasahero? Dira ba diayng dapita?” said the minority floor leader.
So where is the project now and how far has it been implemented?
P1 Construction starts in August 2022
Engineer Norvin Imbong, the project lead of the BRT, said that there are three packages under work for the BRT implementation, mostly widening and construction.
Package 1 is the building of dedicated lanes from the South Bus Terminal to the Provincial Capitol, which has an approved budget of P1.04 billion and was approved by NEDA in 2017.
This is the most immediate implementation that can be felt by the motorists and commuters as the bidding process is ongoing and construction is expected to start in August 2022 once the project is awarded.
“Naa na ta sa procurement sa Package 1. Nahuman na mig bidding. Naa tay opening for submission of bids adtong May 30, 2022, unya on going na ang bid evaluation. Duna tay lima ka bidders nga niparticipate,” said Imbong.
The bid evaluation is to ensure that the winning bidder not only has the lowest rate but also has the capacity to comply with the requirements of the project.
Once the project is awarded, construction starts and must be finished within a year. This means that by August 2023, people can already see the dedicated lanes along N. Bacalso and Osmeña Boulevard.
Package 2 of the projects involves the SRP to South Bus Terminal route and the IT Park to Capitol route.
Package 3 involves the feeder routes, the major parts of which include a terminal in Talisay City servicing the Talisay-Mambaling route and another terminal in Talamban servicing the Talamban-IT Park route.
NEDA approval for P2 and P3
While Package 1 of the BRT project is well underway with a dedicated budget and a solid NEDA approval, Package 2 and Package 3 of the project will need more waiting.
Imbong said that they are continuously seeking NEDA’s approval for the change of scope and change of cost for Package 2 and 3, and they do not yet know how long it will take.
NEDA’s approval is the easy part, but the acquisition of the lots for the widening of the roads in Package 2 and Package 3 will be tedious for the project.
The acquisition of the Right of Way (ROW) will take the joint efforts of Cebu City, Talisay City, and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Imbong is positive that the ROW acquisition will be completed in time, although he did not reveal the timeline for the Package 2 and 3 construction works.
Effect to commuters
Councilor Archival raised the concern that Package 1 is not serving the bulk of the passengers that need the BRT project.
Imbong said that the project is done by phasing, and with patience, the public will eventually see the benefits of the BRT route.
Even with only Package One complete, the engineer said people will see the difference as traffic in the uptown area will be reduced significantly.
The CiBuses, which serve as interim buses for the project, will have dedicated lanes and traversing the two busy highways of N. Bacalos and Osmeña Boulevard will be much easier than before.
Once the full Packages 1 to 3 are completed, this will prepare Metro Cebu, especially Cebu City, for bigger transportation projects such as the Light Railway Transit (LRT) system and even cable cars.
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