BRT project ‘closer’ to implementation

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Saturday, July 5, 2014

THE loan negotiation for the implementation of the P10.6-billion Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project for Cebu City will start soon, according to City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) Chief Atty. Rafael Yap.

Yap yesterday said the World Bank (WB) issued to the Philippine Government the invitation to negotiate for the loan last June 30.

The matter was also tackled during the National Economic Development Authority (Neda)-Investment Coordination Committee meeting in Manila that same day.



He said the issuance of the invitation to negotiate means the National Government, particularly the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), can start discussing details for the loan’s terms of payment.

This includes, among others, the timeline on when and how long the loan should be paid. The details on the social safeguards to ensure the successful implementation of the BRT will be tackled as well.

Once finalized, Yap said, a loan agreement will then be signed to fund the BRT.

The 16-kilometer BRT project, which will run from Barangay Bulacao in the south to Barangay Talamban in the north, will be funded by the WB through the Clean Technology Fund and Agence Francaise de Developpement.

“Although formally the loan has not yet been signed but it is not to say that di madayon ang BRT (the BRT will not push through). Madayon ang BRT (It will). There is already an understanding between the WB and the National Government to fund the project. And there is willingness from the WB to enter into negotiation based on their support for the project,” he said.

On schedule

As for the time frame for the implementation of the BRT, Yap said the DOTC has targeted to award the detailed engineering design by Sept. 30.

The mobilization for the contractor, on the other hand, is expected to be done on the fourth quarter of next year.

Yap said the implementation of the BRT, which is expected to be running by 2017, is on time.

“This is because we have significantly hurdled the deadline set by WB for Neda (National Economic and Development Authority) to approve the BRT, which is on June 30,” he said.

The Neda board headed by President Benigno Aquino III approved the project last May 29.

Future expansion

Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Rama and Yap support the move to extend the BRT to other local government units and then to the airport.

But this must go through the same process for the BRT in the city, including the conduct of pre-feasibility studies and feasibility studies, among others, Rama said.

“Ideally, the BRT should be a metro-wide initiative. It makes absolute sense to extend the route all the way to the airport because it is one of the public’s main destinations,” Yap said.

Rey Crystal, former Neda 7 director, said he also sees the need to expand the BRT to neighboring cities since there is a “demand.”

The route might soon reach Mandaue City to the north and Talisay City to the south, said Crystal, a consultant for the Metro Cebu Development and Coordinating Board (MCDCB).

He said the matter was covered by their earlier study.

Major problem

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) has hired Crystal and former DOTC undersecretary Primitivo Cal as consultants to create urban master plans for 13 local government units in Cebu Province, including the cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue and the municipalities of Cordova, Consolacion, Compostela, Minglanilla, San Fernando and Liloan, among others.

With regards to problems like road widening and clearing of road islands, Crystal said that is the responsibility of the proponent, or the DOTC.

Meanwhile, the implementation of the BRT in Cebu City will affect both private and public drivers, said Cal.

Private cars will have to settle for secondary roads, while public utility vehicles (PUVs) will be assigned to “missionary routes” or less served routes, he said.

He admitted that the project’s major problem is the displacement of PUVs as these cannot co-exist with mass transport.

The objective of mass transport is to shift from low-capacity vehicles to higher-occupancy buses, he said.

However, PUVs can ply areas not served by the BRT, he said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 05, 2014.

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