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‘Misplaced’ street lights in downtown area part of Cebu BRT project

Acting Mayor orders removal of the installed streetlights

By: Lyle Andales, Pia Piquero - CDN Digital Multimedia Reporter and CNU Intern | June 21,2024 - 09:53 AM

cebu brt streetlights

An infamous light post circulating on social media on June 20, as it sits idly in the middle of the road. | CDN Photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines – The recent installation of six seemingly misplaced street lights in downtown Cebu City, near Plaza Independencia and the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, has sparked controversy.

It has raised questions about government processes and communication within agencies, particularly concerning whether the street lights have the necessary permits.

The street lights, installed closer to traffic than the original sidewalk, have drawn criticism for their potential to disrupt traffic flow.

As of June 20, Acting Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia ordered the removal of these street lights due to the danger they pose to pedestrians and commuters.

However, these features are understood to be part of the newly added components of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) system.

‘Link to the Port’

The “Link to the Port” will start from the intersection of P. Del Rosario and a portion of Osmeña Boulevard, continuing to MJ Cuenco right in front of Plaza Independencia.

READ: NCCA joins fray, tells Dep’t of Transportation to stop BRT works

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In an interview, Norvin Imbong, the Cebu BRT project manager, explained that the plan, coordinated with the City Planning Office, aims to pedestrianize the area from Plaza Independencia to the intersection at P. Del Rosario.

“Actually, ang tawag ani niya nga project is Link to the Port. Ang gusto mahitabo ani sa among consultant as well as ni-coincide sa plano sa City Planning Office nga i-pedestrianized ang area. Kana siya nga area gikan sa Plaza Independencia all the way to kining eskina sa P. Del Rosario Landbank aron nga ang taw maka-link siya sa services sa BRT kay naa man diha ang BRT,” Imbong said.

Imbong confirmed that approximately six streetlights have already been installed. These lights extend slightly onto the road to accommodate the sidewalk installation.

He further clarified that once fully implemented, the area where the street lights are currently installed will become part of the pedestrian and sidewalk zone.

While concerns have been raised about the lights encroaching on the roadway, Imbong assured that vehicles can still move freely as the lights are spaced approximately 30 meters apart.

Imbong assured that they would simulate the traffic impact using cones to potentially reduce traffic to one lane if necessary.

“Ang amo lang ana nga ang amoang contractor, tungod kay duna man ta lage ingon tang obligasyon sa contractor kay ila man nang kontrata nga ilang butangan nga dun ana pud ta’y ma trabaho. So mao na’ng amo’ng napananghid nga mintras gisige pa na nato’g kuan [duso] sa council, ato lang sang butangan so na-aprubahan ra pud,” Imbong said.

However, Imbong admitted that while a written permit was intended, the installation moved forward with the approval of Acting Mayor Garcia, based on submitted plans.

“Actually katong pag adto namo gibuhatan na unta og katong mura’g written (permit) pero tungod kay sa kadaghan, gipirmahan nalang ni acting mayor ang katong plano nga amo’ng gida,” Imbong explained.

Acting Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia confirmed this approval.

In a separate interview, however, Garcia explained that while the CBRT is a national project, it still requires adherence to local government processes.

He emphasized that Imbong’s proposal still needs proper permits and coordination with agencies such as the Cebu City Traffic Office and the City Council, particularly when road closures are involved.

“Like any project, the mayor’s approval, the planning office’s approval—you have to get the necessary permits for that. You need to go to the CCTO because you’ll be affecting traffic flow, and you have to go to the City Council because you’re planning to close a lane of a road, right? That’s the process. We just need to follow the process, but in their concept, in their plan, we are in agreement,” Garcia stated.

However, Lawyer Kent Jongoy, assistant department head of CCTO, said they only approved asphalt covering as one of the features of the Link to Port project but not the installation of street lights.

Meanwhile, the acting mayor assured that he would further discuss the matter with Imbong to seek clarifications and ensure compliance with the required procedures. /clorenciana 

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