THE Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) has welcomed the move of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to conduct an ocular inspection of suggested alternative landings for the proposed 4th Cebu-Mactan Bridge and consult stakeholders in Metro Cebu.
The Unified Project Management Office (UPMO) of DPWH advised the team of consultants of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) for detailed engineering design (DED) from Oriental Consultants Global Co. Ltd. to proceed to Cebu after quarantine after arrival on Sept. 18, 2021.
This developed during a recent online meeting organized by operators of business establishments directly affected by the intended landing on the side of Lapu-Lapu City that would connect to the airport road.
CCCI president Felix Taguiam, who attended the meeting last week and on Oct. 22, 2020 saw the need for DPWH, Jica and all stakeholders to thresh out and address all possible issues before proceeding with the project.
“This is something by its nature we all have to coordinate. The tri-cities (Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu) are intertwined. The economy of these three big cities should be connected. We cannot be without each other,” Taguiam said.
The proposed fourth bridge in Mactan is funded by a 119.225 billion yen loan (roughly P52 billion) from Jica. It has two components: a four-lane 3.3-kilometer bridge, with an elevated four-lane viaduct; and a four-lane 4.9-kilometer coastal road with an elevated viaduct.
Taguiam cited the need for a holistic program for the future of Cebu. “Maybe we have to realign again. The project that we started talking about, the fourth bridge, was done years ago. Right now, things have changed,” he said.
“We have to redesign, repurpose, reboot and see what would be the best before we tap into this project because this is something that will cost billions of pesos also of the taxpayers’ money,” Taguiam pointed out.
The CCCI president recognized that the project would be a good development for the north of Cebu and underscored the need for an open discussion first.
“Imagine Cebu connected with four bridges already, and we will soon come back from this pandemic. Let us all just coordinate with each other. Let us make this a perfect one, a livable one,” he said.
Jiichi Ohashi, team leader of Jica consultants, welcomed the upcoming dialogue, saying: “We are very flexible and will listen to what is best for this country, not only for the Mactan-Mandaue side.”
Taguiam attended the online meeting with CCCI’s past president Antonio Chiu, vice president Jay Yuvallos and executive director May Ybañez, as well as Mactan Business Club interim convenor Jonathan Verga.
The operators of General Milling Corp. (GMC), Island Central Mactan and Marina Mall lamented that the DPWH proceeded with the DED in December 2020 despite agreeing with the Jica country representative on Oct. 22, 2020 to check the alignments they suggested.
The group foresaw a major traffic problem at the junction with M.L Quezon National Highway that would delay travel to the airport and the northern coastline of Mactan and disrupt the movement in and out of the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ) 1, noted Johnny Almocera of GMC.
“The traffic situation at the whole stretch of the M.L. Quezon Highway is already very heavy. Any addition of traffic coming from the proposed 4th bridge, as the landing design through airport road would show, will make it worse,” he said.
He added more establishments would be affected in the area, including Cebu Yacht Club, Muramoto, Mactan Tropics Center, Days Hotel, the planned Hotel 101 of Double Dragon, and several restaurants in the area.
However, if the new bridge lands as the group suggested at the northwestern arc of Ibo along East Asia Utilities of Aboitiz Power, travel to the airport can go through the MEZ service road along the airport perimeter, he explained.
Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan and the City Council, through a resolution adopted on March 4, also opposed the airport road landing area and proposed instead the Ibo alternative.
“Traffic will be seamless, airport road congestion is avoided, no establishments will be affected, and those going to resorts in Punta Engaño, Mactan and Maribago will travel faster, especially from Cebu north,” Almocera said.
He noted that the new bridge at Ibo point will also provide direct access to several residential subdivisions, like also those in Buaya, Bangkal and Pajac, and subsequently ease the traffic along the first and second bridges.
The proposed alternative landing site will also provide direct access to the planned Mactan north reclamation project, he added. (KOC with PR)