Cebu City BRT design deadline: September 2020

THE technical working group (TWG) for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project in Cebu City has only until September 2020 to complete its study and design.

Regional Development Council Chairman Kenneth Cobonpue said the TWG members are working on the interior and exterior design of the BRT station, taking into consideration the sidewalks, streets and pedestrian flow.

He said the Department of Transportation (DOTr) gave eight months to the South Korea-based Kunhwa Engineering and Consulting Co. Ltd., the lead firm in the TWG, to complete the details.

After the BRT detailed engineering study is completed, it will be submitted to the DOTr for bidding, said Cobonpue.

Former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña, who championed the BRT system implementation, is now looking for any development on the P16 billion BRT project.

DOTr Undersecretary Mark Richmund de Leon said the study for the BRT’s detailed engineering design started in the last quarter of 2019.

The BRT is part of the Integrated Intermodal Transportation System (IITS) in Cebu. The IITS, initiated by the DOTr, targets to integrate the BRT, monorail system and cable car system.

Dino vs. Young

During the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte in Cebu for the Sinulog celebration last Jan. 19, he said the BRT system is hard to implement as roads in Cebu City cannot be expanded anymore.

Duterte, in a speech, suggested that Cebu City establish skyways and deploy trains like in Manila.

When asked for his comment on Duterte’s statement, Cebu City Councilor Joy Augustus Young on Monday said there is no reason for Cebu to copy Manila’s solutions to traffic.

Modern technology, he said, failed to solve the capital city’s traffic problems.

In a press conference last Tuesday, Jan. 21, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino criticized Young “for questioning the wisdom of the President.”

Young responded by saying that Dino should listen to the people.

Dino was appointed to represent the President, but Dino must remember he represents the whole Visayas, the local lawmaker said.

Young said Dino should listen to his constituents so he can relay to the President the pulse of the public.

“Personally, just because I made an opinion doesn’t mean I’m attacking the President,” he said.

Police chief’s offer

Sensing the growing traffic problem in the metro, Cebu City police officer-in-charge Col. Engelbert Soriano said he would volunteer to help Mayor Edgardo Labella manage the traffic.

Soriano said he had studied traffic management, and he could use his knowledge for the City.

He said some of the solutions to traffic congestion are reducing left and right turns at intersections, and making a narrow road a one-way thoroughfare.

The traffic enforcers, said Soriano, must be trained on how to deal with heavy traffic flow.

Transport safety

Seeing the need for an agency that will oversee maritime and air transport safety, the House committee on Visayas development has asked the DOTr to set up satellite offices.

The move came after Deputy Speaker for the Visayas Pablo John Garcia (Cebu, third district) filed a motion on the matter in a meeting set by House committee on Visayas development chairman Rep. Vincent Franco “Duke” Frasco (Cebu, fifth district) at the Capitol Social Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020.

A bill to address the lack of DOTr regional offices and directors is currently pending before Congress.

The committee, though, saw the need to put up satellite offices in the meantime, especially in Cebu, where President Duterte pledged funds to improve mass transport and reduce traffic.

“Central Visayas, Cebu especially, is a maritime and air transport hub and a premier tourism destination. Guests fly in and take buses and inter-island ferries to their other destinations. We badly need the DOTr here,” Garcia said in a press statement dated Jan. 22.

The House committee is set to send its request for temporary satellite offices to the DOTr central office.

During the committee’s meeting, it was found that there is not one agency that oversees maritime and air transport safety. Nor is there a regional office of the DOTr in any of the three regions in the Visayas.

Garcia said Department of Tourism 7 Director Shahlimar Tamano had pointed out that in other regions elsewhere in the country, the DOTr also has no presence at all.

“Director Tamano and the tourism sector observed this and bought this up with me because tourism needs a seamless transportation experience and it seems that for concerns on air, maritime and land travel, you will have to deal with about six separate agencies,” Garcia said. (JJL, AYB & RTF)