CEBU City North District Representative Raul del Mar has appealed to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and officials of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) to speed up the implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project which, he says, “has been stuck on the slow bureaucratic lane.”
In a statement issued on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2020, del Mar noted that the DOTr has failed at least twice to meet its deadlines for the project’s initial operation.
“First scheduled to start its first phase in October 2016, the deadline was reset last December 2017 to the first quarter of January 2020, according to published news reports,”
said del Mar.
“The new deadline, it would seem, is December next year,” he said.
A previous report said the DOTr is currently reviewing the detailed engineering design of the BRT.
Once the review is completed, the DOTr will then proceed with its procurement process.
“I appeal to the Department of Transportation and officials of NEDA, which oversees these projects funded by the World Bank and Agence Francaise de Developpement, to push the Cebu BRT project from where it has been stuck - on the slow bureaucratic lane,” said del Mar.
The first phase of the BRT project, which covers N. Bacalso Avenue near the Cebu South Bus Terminal all the way up to the Cebu Provincial Capitol through Osmeña Boulevard, is expected to partially operate by December 2021.
Phase two of the project which will traverse Bulacao, Talisay City in the south to Talamban in the north, is expected to be completed by March 2022.
“Except for the CiBus system, the Cebu BRT has not picked up speed to end and compensate for the serial delays,” said del Mar.
The CiBus system, the precursor service of the bus component of the project, was launched in March 2020.
For delays in implementation, the Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged the P16.3 billion project in its 2019 consolidated report published on Sept. 8, 2020.
According to the COA report, the BRT project also scored a total of P29.48 million in commitment fees from 2015 to 2019 due to delays in implementation.
“The fees are charges on undisbursed balances of the loan, which began to pile up when the loan took effect last Dec. 3, 2014,” del Mar explained.
Del Mar noted that if only the DOTr had followed its original timeline, the BRT should have already been running by the first quarter of 2020, before the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The BRT project is 39.88 kilometers long, including the length of the feeder lines which will extend to Talisay City.
The technical working group (TWG) for the BRT project has been given only until this month to complete its study and design.
Regional Development Council Chairman Kenneth Cobonpue said the TWG members, led by South Korea-based Kunhwa Engineering and Consulting Co. Ltd., are working on the interior and exterior design of the BRT station, taking into account sidewalks, streets and the flow of pedestrians.
After the BRT detailed engineering study is completed, it will be submitted to the DOTr for bidding, said Cobonpue.