Open to two-way traffic for a month: DPWH
There will be momentary traffic relief in Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu cities after the Department of Public Works and Highways decided on Thursday to keep the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge open to two-way traffic for a month while authorities address the need to protect the pipeline of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) that can be damaged when the repair commences.
Juvy Cordon, DPWH 7 assistant regional director, said they would concentrate instead on sidewalk repair while finding ways to protect the MCWD pipeline that could be damage when workers begin to remove and replace the bridge’s concrete flooring.
Danilo Pasicaran, the DPWH 7’s supervising engineer for the bridge’s repair, said the galvanized iron support for the pipeline, which have been attached to the underside of the bridge, have weakened and could collapse when the bridge’s repair goes full blast.
Cordon, however, said that as of yesterday, there was no word yet from MCWD when it would replace the pipeline’s support.
Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III would convene on February 16 the Mactan-Cebu Bridge Management Board (MCBMB) to resolve issues arising from the repairs of the Mandaue-Mactan (old) Bridge, said provincial information officer Ethel Natera.
Among these concerns, she said, would be how the repairs would affect the MCWD’s pipeline and the 69-kilowatt power line owned by the East Asia Utilities Corp., both of which are attached to the bridge.
Any interruptions to these water and power lines would not only affect residents and commercial establishments on Mactan Island but also those living in mainland Cebu, said Natera.
Natera said representatives from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority would be asked to attend the meeting since air travelers have been asked to leave for the airport four to five hours before their flights. Also asked to attend the meeting were representatives from public utilities, the Department of Public Works and
Highways in Central Visayas and the project contractor, among others, she added.
The MCBMB, chaired by Davide, includes Mayors Jonas Cortes of Mandaue City and Paz Radaza of Lapu-Lapu City as members.
The repair of the old bridge was initially set for August 2015 but it was postponed upon the urging of MCBMB due to Cebu’s hosting of important events, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meetings held in September and November last year and last month’s 51st International Eucharistic Congress.
This early, however, exporters and manufacturers in Cebu projected losses in millions of pesos if the traffic situation would not be addressed when the repair of the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge goes full blast next month.
“In a day, exporters (will) already lose hundreds of millions (of pesos),” said Porferio Montesclaros, a member of the board of directors of the Mactan Export Processing Zone Chamber of Exporters and Manufacturers (Mepzcem).
Montesclaros said the operational costs of the some 130 companies in Mepzcem were already “very high” due to the congestion being experienced at the port of Cebu.
The cost, he added, would only increase if no alternate routes are presented when the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge closes for repairs.
“If our goods and trucks cannot move from the port to the factory and then back to the port, we will lose money,” he added.
“Maninguha man mi nga di mi mosira (We are making an effort to prevent any factory closure), but again, the cost and effort in doing that is already very high,” he said.
So far, no exporter has considered shutting down business as a result of the heavy traffic congestion in roads leading to the Cebu City port area, he said.
At least two shipping companies have, meanwhile, expressed intention to deploy additional sea vessels to ferry passengers and vehicles between Cebu City and Mactan Island.
Maritime Industry Authority Central Visayas (Marina-7) spokesman Jose Cabatingan said Lite Shipping Corp. and Gothong Southern Shipping Corp. were willing to provide landing craft tank (LCT) vessels to ply the Mactan Channel route.
“Although they are willing, we are still waiting for them to file an application for a special permit. But I am positive they will really deploy,” he said Thursday.
Cabatingan said an LCT vessel is capable of carrying passengers and vehicles. Some LCT vessels can carry up to 40 vehicles per trip, he said.
At present, only Metro Ferry, owned by businessman Augusto Go, operates eight ferries that cross between the mainland (Pier 3, Cebu City) and Mactan Island (Muelle Osmeña) via the Mactan Channel, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., at 30-minute intervals.
If additional sea vessels are to ply Mactan Channel, officials have identified the Ouano Wharf in Mandaue City and the Kasamahan Wharf in Lapu-Lapu City as potential docking areas.
Cabatingan said Lite Shipping was still surveying the proposed docking area in Lapu-Lapu City since they found that the wharf has no ramp for LCT.
Cabatingan assured Marina-7 would approve within a day the special permit needed by a shipping company to operate a vessel that would ply Mactan Channel.
“The mere filing of a motion for the issuance of a special permit is sufficient already. We will make sure the procedure is speedy because we already know the problem,” he said.
Shipping firms are required to pay at least P2,000 as filing fee, with the amount increasing proportionately depending on the vessel’s gross tonnage, Cabatingan said.
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