Briones: Enough of the ‘Singapore-like vision’

I have one request for reporters covering the Cebu City Government.

Can you refrain from inserting the word “Singapore” in your reports? Because that’s what it looks like. And it’s beginning to appear forced.

Yeah, we already know about Mayor Michael Rama’s vision and we’ve known about it for quite some time. In fact, I’m not the first one to write about it and probably I’m not going to be the last.

Because how can we forget? Almost every story that comes out of City Hall nowadays includes that phrase, which is beginning to sound like a mantra.

Oh wait, it is a mantra.

Don’t get me wrong. I support Rama. He has made some difficult, unpopular decisions in the past that later benefited many residents. And just recently, he was criticized for wanting to get rid of illegal structures along waterways.

Let me remind the detractors that Rama is not doing this for his own good. At the end of the day, it’s for all of us who live in the city. I’m pretty sure those who have been and will be affected by the ongoing demolition agree that living so close to the water is hardly ideal. Especially when it rains. Very hard. And the water rises.

What happened last August when many portions of the metro were inundated by floodwater should have been a wake-up call.

So there.

Anyway, it’s hardly fair to use Singapore as a benchmark when discussing the city’s many problems, even though I’m not really sure that’s what the mayor intended. Maybe the reporters should ask him for clarification.

At any rate, maybe Rama is just fond of Singapore. Maybe he has good memories in the island-state. Maybe he just likes the name.

Let’s not forget, he does have a way with words. He possesses the gift of the gab, although some might call it the gift of tongues.

Either way, I think I get it.

Our mayor is ambitious. And I like the fact that he’s not holding back when he speaks about his plans for the city. And why should he? I believe that he believes that the residents believe they deserve better.

So when the City Government announced the possibility of installing cable cars from the downtown area going to the hinterlands “to mitigate the problem of traffic congestion,” I was like, “Go for it!”

And no, it’s not a ridiculous idea.

Cable cars already exist as a mode of public transportation in many countries in Central and South America. They’re quicker and cheaper to build, which have led more than 18 cities, mostly in emerging economies, to implement cable car systems within their urban transport infrastructure, according to the blogs.worldbank.org.

We’re talking about the likes of Medellin in Colombia and Guayaquil in Ecuador, basically second-tier cities like Cebu.

It’s not at all far-fetched. But to say that the proposed project “will give face to the modernization and Singapore-like vision” of the mayor, then it becomes an elusive dream.