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‘Removal and transfer’ of skywalks to SRP: How will it be done?

By: Pia Piquero - CDN Dgital Multimedia Reporter | February 17,2024 - 08:25 AM


The dismantling of one of the skywalks along Osmeña Boulevard continues on Friday, February 16. | CDN Photo/ Pia Piquero

CEBU CITY, Philippines –The dismantling of one of the two skywalks along Osmeña Boulevard officially resumed on February 13, after a pause of more than two months.

This move, aimed at paving the way for the ongoing civil works of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) project in the vicinity, signifies a step forward in the project’s progression.

Initially slated for implementation last year, the process faced repeated delays, primarily due to the necessity for further coordination meetings with management and local government authorities.

READ: TIMELINE: Why skywalks in Cebu City need to be dismantled, relocated

However, with its recent resumption, the project has gained momentum once again.

The resumption of skywalk operations has sparked discourse among residents and netizens, particularly concerning the terminology used – “removal and transfer” instead of “demolition.”

This shift in language raises valid questions about the feasibility of transferring the skywalks to the South Road Properties (SRP). How realistic is such a transfer? And how would it be accomplished? These are queries that warrant careful consideration and analysis.

READ: Skywalks along Osmeña Blvd to be removed, transferred to SRP, not to be demolished

In an interview with Cebu City Councilor Jerry Guardo, the chairman of the committee on infrastructure, on Friday, February 16, he explained to CDN Digital the process of the “removal and transfer” of the skywalks.

Guardo explained that the city government aims to salvage the slabs of the skywalks for potential repurposing as “footbridges,” rather than outright demolition.

“Lima na ka slabs ilang gitapad-tapad, so ma-salvage paman gud ang slabs niya, not necessarily na i-demolish bitaw so kung ma salvage pa siya, anha na ma apply ang term na ‘remove and transfer’,” Guardo said.

The slabs, which are the horizontal, flat concrete floors that formed the components of the skywalks —along with the roofing, would be salvaged with plans to transfer them to the South Road Properties (SRP).

Regarding the logistics of the transfer, Guardo mentioned that the slabs would be loaded onto long bed trucks or flatbed trucks using a crane.

READ: ‘Skywalks should be user-friendly’

“kanang hagdnan, maglisod na gyud ta ana, dili naman na ma salvage, kana nga part ma called nana siya na demolition. It’s already an old structure unya dili nana siya applicable so we have to demolish that part (stairs),” he said.

He also clarified that the term “transfer” does not imply reconstructing the skywalks in their original form but rather repurposing the salvaged slabs.

Not only at the SRP

When asked about the specific location for potential installation, Guardo noted that while SRP is a consideration, it is “not the only option.”

Structural engineers will need to assess the feasibility of installing footbridges in various locations, considering factors such as soil stability and engineering constraints.

“Not neccessarily jud nga i-construct na didto, we are just looking at it if possible siya, if muingon ang mga engineers na dili siya feasible, mas maayo og magtugod og new bridge. We are just looking at it as option,” Guardo said.

Guardo clarified that the city government is not directly funding the project, as it is part of the contractual obligations of the contractor.

“The city is not spending a single centavo for that, murag pro bono mana sa ilang contractual, its part raman sa contractor,” he explained.

Minimal distraction to traffic

He also assured that the demolition process is being conducted with minimal disruption to traffic, scheduled primarily on weekends to avoid weekday congestion.

They projected it to take 10 to 15 days, with efforts to expedite the process to five to seven days to mitigate traffic congestion.

Guardo further mentioned that the decision to salvage and repurpose the skywalk slabs is still subject to further evaluation by structural engineers and post-audit by the Commission on Audit (COA).

While SRP remains a potential venue for footbridge installation, other options are being considered based on engineering feasibility and community needs.

“If it’s not feasible, didto lang sa na ibutang, until naa kagamitan,” Guardo said.

READ: Portion of Osmeña Blvd. closed due to skywalk removal

Meanwhile, Engineer Nigel Paul Villarete, former Cebu City administrator and city planning officer, shared with CDN Digital his sentiments on the transfer and removal of the two skywalks that he believed to have served their purpose throughout the years.

Villarete also expressed that the demolition of skywalks is necessary if the purpose is to create a way to a much better project, as this is what progress is all about.

“When it needs to be demolished to give way to a better project, by all means we should,” he said.

“That’s what progress means… and it fits with the principle of our administration, too: ‘There is always a better way!’,” he added.

Other uses

Further, Villarete also shared his thoughts on the girders that will be disassembled from the parts of the skywalks.

“Unfortunately, that’s a prestressed girder so we can’t cut it into smaller pieces without losing the inherent advantages of prestressing,” he said.

READ: Slaying the Metro Manila traffic monster

However, Villarete noted that there is always a way to find good use for it if the city officials will think and find them.

He also shared an advice that if the government will still use it as a grider, they have to consult with Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) or City Engineer’s office to re-analyze its strength.

However, if there is a plan to use it in another way (not as girder), it is more recommended.

“I don’t recommend using that as a girder (still), but if they plan to have other uses such as resting flat on the ground, they can do that immediately,” he said.

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TAGS: BRT, Cebu City, footbridges, skywalks, SRP

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