Singapore experts now in Cebu for railway study

By: Carmel Loise Matus, Nestle L. Semilla July 26,2016 - 09:55 PM

EVEN before President Rodrigo Duterte confirmed plans for it, the private sector took the initiative to kick off the Cebu Transit System for Metro Cebu.

Michael Dino, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (PAV), said a group of experts from Singapore arrived in Cebu last week to do the initial survey of Metro Cebu for the proposed light railway transit (LRT).

“They went here to check the viability of the project, alignment of the LRT, look at the legal side and financial,” Dino said in a phone interview yesterday afternoon.

Dino said the Cebu LRT project would cost billions of pesos and it would have to be done through a public-private partnership (PPP).

But Cebu Business Club president Gordon Alan “Dondi” Joseph said the government should finance the civil works and let the private sector handle the operations and maintenance.

“Otherwise the fare may be unaffordable to the public,” Joseph said in a text message sent to Cebu Daily News.

Joseph, also a member of the Metro Cebu Development and Coordinating Board (MCDCB), said since the transit system is a clear necessity, studies should begin immediately. Dino said they are targeting to finish the study before the year ends.

In his SONA on Monday, President Duterte said his administration would pursue railway projects in Metro Manila, Cebu and other major key-points in the country including the Mindanao Railway Project.

There is no specific time frame yet as to when the Cebu LRT will be materialized. But Dino said they want to achieve it within four to five years.

“Everyone is pushing for it. Everybody wants it,” he said.

The Cebu LRT project will traverse the cities of Talisay, Naga and Carcar and the towns of Minglanilla and San Fernando in southern Cebu and reach until the city of Danao in northern Cebu.

Former congressman and now Talisay City Mayor Eduardo Gullas earlier filed House Bill 310 for the creation of Cebu province’s first LRT system in 2007.

Under the bill, the former Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) would be required to prepare and execute a plan to establish and operate the new LRT system. At that time, the cost of the LRT project for Cebu was at US $1 billion.

The department earlier forged a build-operate-transfer agreement with the AMA Group of Holdings Corp. for a 71-kilometer, three-phase LRT system that would run through Metro Cebu from Carcar in the south to Danao in the north.

However, the project execution has been stalled, as the DOTC found it difficult to get lower offers from other private contractors.

His grandson, Rep. Gerald Anthony Gullas of the first district of Cebu filed House Bill 1338 in 2013 seeking to implement the LRT system. But the bill was referred to the House Committee on Transportation.

Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella said a light railway transit system in Cebu will stop the influx of informal settlers in the city.

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