THE National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Investment Coordination Committee has approved the two-year extension of the foreign loans for the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has asked for.
This was confirmed by Norvin Imbong, officer in charge project manager for Cebu BRT, in a phone interview on Wednesday,
May 19, 2021.
Imbong said they were informed by their counterparts in Manila that the loan from the French government, through the Agence Francaise de Développement (AFD), closed in March this year, has been extended until March 2023, while the loan from the World Bank (WB) set to close this June 2021 has been extended until June 2023.
“The extension was for the original loan. By that time period, we are hoping to finally construct the BRT,” he said.
“Now, we are in the process of asking for a change in cost, scope, and implementation period,” he added.
Imbong, however, said he does not yet have the specific details on the adjustments the DOTr applied for with the Neda.
The BRT loans took effect in December 2014.
The 39.88-kilometer Cebu BRT project has funds amounting to US$198 million from AFD and WB.
The DOTr aims to have the first package of the BRT project partially operational by December of this year; however, actual civil works for the first phase have yet to start as the bidding for the civil works of the Cebu BRT first package is still under bid evaluation by the Special Bids and Awards Committee.
The first package of the BRT project is from the Cebu South Bus Terminal to the Capitol.
The submission and opening of bids were held last April 14.
Despite some local Cebu City officials expressing doubts that the December 2021 target is achievable, Imbong remained positive it can be realized.
“I am still hopeful because we at DOTr, we are not into changing timelines just because we have a few hurdles. I am still hopeful because when it comes to construction, of course, the contractor can always have that in 24/7 or double time,” he said.
To recall, the Philippine government has already incurred P29.48 million in cumulative commitment fees (charges levied on undisbursed balances after the loan has been effective) from 2015 to 2019 for the late implementation of the project. (WBS)