Rama backs earthballing of trees on S. Osmeña
FEARING accidents would happen in the area, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama yesterday urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-7) to push through with earthballing the remaining trees along the demolished center island of S. Osmeñ Road.
Rama said he supports the call of Councilor Nida Cabrera which came out in Cebu Daily News yesterday.
“I’m very happy that Nida Cabrera is speaking now as an environmentalist but is very practical, flexible and realistic. And I am very proud that she is not for balling out because that (trees) would not serve anything. According to the parks and playgrounds commission, the roots cannot have any movement because it’s too restricted,” he told reporters.
He said the DENR-7 should lift its cease and desist order (CDO) on the earthballing permit given to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH-7) last year for the trees in the center island of the road.
If the trees are left there, road accidents will just be around the corner, Rama added.
“Which is now higher (in priority), public welfare or the cease-and-desist order? Will they pay for property damage? Will they pay for injuries? And most of all, will they handle the burial? Because death is just being invited in the area,” Rama added.
As an “advance and proactive measure”, he instructed Cebu City Parks and Playgrounds Commission executive director Librando Macaraya to prepare to earthball the remaining trees in the center islands. The concrete boundaries were already demolished by the DPWH contractor for road widening.
The commission held their weekly meeting at the mayor’s conference room yesterday. Rama joined them.
Parks and Playgrounds administrator Arlie Gesta said the city is willing to do the earthballing and that no additional budget is needed.
“No problem for us. We have the technical expertise, the equipment and the manpower. The trees are not so big anyway,” he said.
According to his recent inventory, at least 20 trees remian in the center of the road. Most of them are Fire Trees.
The trees will be uprooted and transferred to the Senior Citizens Park behind City Hall and to the Plaza Independencia.
But the DENR remains firm on its stand that DPWH-7 should first comply with the conditions agreed by them before lifting the CDO.
Sought for comment on the mayor’s pronouncement, DENR-7 spokesperson Eddie Llamedo said both City Hall and DPWH should work together in settling the conditions, among which is to replace the 79 missing trees with 7,900 seedlings.
“As of now, we have not received a request from the Cebu City Government for the earth-balling. One of the conditions for the lifting of the CDO is the replacement of 7,900 seedlings to be maintained in three years. Let’s ask DPWH how fast they could comply with the replacement,” he told Cebu Daily News.
The mangrove seedlings were supposed to be provided by the Cebu Provincial Capitol’s Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) while the DPWH will be in charge of the planting in the Balili property in Naga City.
But until now, the DPWH hasn’t pushed through with the agreed plan.
Removing the remaining trees in the center island of S. Osmena is just one of several “deliverables” that Rama wants to be fulfilled before the concreted road will be fully opened.
Other conditions agreed was for the fence of the Cebu Ports Authority (CPA) to be removed, to have a temporary divider on the road, have street lights installed and traffic signs installed in the area.
“The position of the mayor is the whole S. Osmeña should not be completely and openly available from Mandaue City to Fort San Pedro unless and until there is a lighted divider and all of these will be addressed,” Rama told reporters yesterday.
He said DPWH or its contractor, WT Construction Inc., should be the one to install the “lighted dividers” saying it’s a national road and they cannot just turn over the project to the city without fully completing it with the lights.
The dividers, he explained, should be decorative and may be removed if necessary. It should have posts that are reflectorized and also have series lights to brighten the area, especially during nighttime.
Rama also wants the DPWH and the Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) to put up signages there. He said a 30- to 40-kilometers per hour speed limit should also be enforced. Rumble strips should also be installed so that vehicles would slow down.
These should be done by March 18, Rama said.
He tasked city engineer Jose Marie Poblete to oversee the implementation of the “deliverables.”
He earlier set a deadline of March 15 for all the requirements, but the mayor said Poblete asked for a three-day extension of the deadline.
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