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Del Mar questions BRT ‘changes’, seeks inquiry

Cebu City 1st District Representative Raul del Mar has questioned the reported changes in the alignment of the proposed P16-billion Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project, saying the new route would be “detrimental” to the public.

In a privilege speech delivered at the House of Representatives on August 27, 2019, Del Mar said the reported new alignment would cut the BRT corridor by almost half to 13 kilometers from the proposed 23 kilometers and disenfranchise thousands of residents in the vicinity of Bulacao and Talamban from access to the center of Cebu City.

He asked that the House committee on transportation conduct a hearing into the reported changes and summon the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to shed light on the issue.

The project approved by the NEDA and the World Bank is a 23-kilometer transport corridor between Bulacao in the south and Talamban in the north, with link to the South Road Properties (SRP).

It will include transit ways, stations, terminals, a depot and other facilities. The buses are targeted to carry 330,000 passengers daily.

Del Mar noted that this corridor was selected because this is where thousands of commuters reside. The Bulacao and Talamban zones are “where the BRT is mostly needed.”

The reported new alignment, on the other hand, will start at SRP and end at the Cebu IT Park. Del Mar said “the only entities that benefit from this arrangement are corporations that do business in one or both sides of the new route.”

“These (SRP and Cebu IT Park) are economic powerhouses with advanced business establishments. But these are not residential areas and nobody commutes to and from those points early in the morning when traveling is at its peak,” Del Mar said.

The World Bank, in its latest report on the project's progress, did not mention any changes in alignment, though.

Read related story: World Bank notes progress in BRT implementation

He proposed the following:

  • For the House committee on transportation to call for a hearing and invite the DOTr and the NEDA to present the rationale for the reported realignment of the Cebu BRT Project;

  • For the committee on transportation to inquire from the Investment Coordinating Committee (ICC) of NEDA Board whether or not the ICC has already approved the revision of the scope and cost of the Cebu BRT as announced;

  • For the Committee on Transportation to inquire from the Department of Finance (DOF) and NEDA whether or not they agree with the changes and corresponding amendments of the loan agreements with World Bank-IBRD, the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), and whether these loan agreements have already been amended; and

  • In case the changes have not been finalized, for the committee on transportation to ask DOTr to reconsider its decision and implement the Cebu BRT as originally designed and approved.

The Cebu BRT Project is funded by a US$141-million financial package approved on September 26, 2014. It consists of loans from the World Bank (US$116 million) and the Clean Technology Fund or CTF (US$25 million). The Philippines will provide counterpart financing of US$87.5 million. Closing date for the loans is June 30, 2021.

The project, delayed by about five years now, has been integrated into the proposed Metro Cebu Integrated and Intermodal Transport System (MCIITS).

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has announced a target of end-2021 for the intermodal transport system. (Ventures Cebu)

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