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World Bank notes progress in BRT implementation

An artist's perspective of the P16-billion Cebu BRT Project.

A World Bank report has rated the progress in the implementation of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project as “moderately satisfactory”, an improvement from the previous rating of “unsatisfactory”.

The document, dated June 10, 2019, noted that it has been almost five years since the P16-billion project was approved for funding. It is up for a mid-term review in December 2019.

After a delay in implementation caused by the failure of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to award the contract for a technical support consultant, the project was made a component of the proposed Metro Cebu Integrated and Intermodal Transport System (MCIITS).

The MCIITS is a basket of mass transport solutions to help improve mobility of people in Metro Cebu, including a proposed monorail system by the Udenna group of Davao businessman Dennis Uy.

Compared to the monorail project, the Cebu BRT Project is more advanced as it is already funded, the document states.

The hiring of EGIS International as technical support consultant on September 4, 2018 also moved the project forward. EGIS’s contract is for two years.

“It (project) will be designed to be ready for integration with other transport modes,” the World Bank said.

The social management consultant, University of San Carlos Center for Social Research and Education, has been on board since January 31, 2018. Its contract is also for two years.

The World Bank, however, stressed that it is important for the DOTr to engage with the new administration in Cebu City about project implementation.

Cebu City is now headed by Mayor Edgardo C. Labella, who defeated former mayor Tomas R. Osmeña in the May 2019 elections.

The Cebu BRT Project is Osmeña’s pet project.

Project implementation was delayed after Osmeña’s enemy, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd L. Dino, pushed for a light rail transit system instead.

The proposed BRT system 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.

A US$141-million financial package was approved for the Cebu BRT Project on September 26, 2014, consisting 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.

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

Read: Metro Cebu intermodal transport system targeted end of 2021

“I want the people of Cebu to see a combination of railways, BRT and cable cars. We have to have these by the end of 2021, the latest,” he said in a visit to Cebu to inspect the project site on July 6, 2019. (Ventures Cebu)

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