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What’s the future of Cebu BRT? Phase 1 completion now uncertain

By: Pia Piquero - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | June 21,2024 - 09:13 AM

cebu brt

After over a decade of planning, construction of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit began in 2023. This photo, taken in January 2024, shows parts of the project near the Cebu Provincial Capitol.

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Concerns mount over the potential wastage of taxpayers’ money as hopes dim for the completion of the multi-billion peso Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.

Project manager Norvin Imbong announced an indefinite delay in completing Package 1 due to the ongoing heritage disputes and criticisms of mismanagement.

Initially slated to end in July this year, Imbong explained that package one has been delayed indefinitely due to heritage protection disputes concerning the bus terminal designed to be built in front of the Capitol building.

Although Imbong mentioned that the completion might be moved to August, another question followed asking if the completion might be “until further notice,” to which he nodded and answered, “Yes.”

READ: Councilors demand clear plans, transparency in CBRT

CBRT project faces uncertainty amid mismanagement, land disputes

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As of February 17, Package 1 of the CBRT was assessed to be 60 percent complete and was on track for completion in early July 2024.

Imbong, along with City Councilor Jerry Guardo, chairman of the Cebu City Council committee on infrastructure, conducted an ocular inspection of the ongoing civil works, which they announced as progressing.

However, the project’s advancement was soon stalled by external factors.

A major obstacle emerged when Governor Gwendolyn Garcia issued a directive to halt civil works near Fuente Osmeña and the Capitol building to protect heritage sites.

In a memorandum dated February 27, 2024, Garcia instructed the CBRT team and the contractor, Hunan Road and Bridge Construction Group Ltd., to cease activities on province-owned lots along Osmeña Boulevard.

The governor cited encroachment on the buffer zones of the Cebu Provincial Capitol and Fuente Osmeña Circle as the reason for the stoppage, prioritizing heritage preservation over the ongoing construction.

The CBRT project, initially designed to alleviate Cebu City’s traffic congestion, is now mired in controversy and uncertainty.

Previously, critics have also pointed to mismanagement by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and political interference as major issues undermining the project’s progress.

Urban planning authority Engineer Rene Santiago has been vocal about the project’s flaws. During an interview on April 3, after an executive session of the Cebu City Council, Santiago criticized the DOTr’s decades-long mismanagement, where he attributed it to its repeated setbacks to incompetence.

He outlined three potential futures for the CBRT: continuing with its current flawed design, halting the project entirely to prevent further losses, or seeking compromises that may not fully resolve the underlying issues.

Santiago also noted design flaws, particularly concerning accessibility for elderly commuters.

He criticized the proposed pedestrian infrastructure, including crosswalks and underpasses, as inconvenient and punitive for users.

Santiago further suggested that the design might ultimately fail to address the city’s traffic problems effectively. /clorenciana

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TAGS: BRT Project, cebu brt, cebu news

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