‘Keep road open’

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Monday, March 10, 2014


SERGIO Osmeña St. will not be closed today, after business owners along the route complained they were not given enough time to inform their customers.

The establishments affected asked for a one-week postponement of the road closure and for one side to be left open to traffic.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 said it is willing to close only half of Sergio Osmeña St. if that is the request of the business owners.

DPWH 7 Project Engineer Roy dela Cruz said that when they met with Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama yesterday, they presented their concerns about closing the 900-meter stretch of Sergio Osmeña St. to traffic while they work on it.

Among the establishments that abut the road portion that will be closed are SM City, Cokaliong Shipping Lines and Sugbotel.

Walk-through

Mayor Rama was surprised that the establishments were not consulted.

“Wala’y closure ugma, uy! Magpapirma pa gani mi ugma (There will be no road closure (on Tuesday). We still have to sign an agreement),” Rama said in his regular press conference yesterday, referring to the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that he asked
City Attorney Jerone Castillo to prepare.

Rama also ordered a walk-through on the affected route at 4:30 a.m. today and the signing of the MOU will follow at Radisson Blu immediately after.

“Even if this is a national project, who will be affected? It is the Cebu City Government. We were even able to stop the flyover project. What is important is that there will be understanding from all camps,” said Rama.

Dela Cruz of DPWH confirmed that the mayor proposed an agreement with the business sector, represented by shipping operator Chester Cokaliong, and DPWH 7.

No precedent

“On the part of DPWH, who will sign? There is no precedent. But out of courtesy to the mayor, we listened and we are waiting for the draft so we can study it. But as I said, we are amenable to closing only half of the road so we can start the project immediately,” dela Cruz said.

He said the agency will also coordinate with the City Traffic Operations and Management (Citom) in the implementation of the project.

SM regional mall manager Sherry Tuvilla said the establishment was only informed of the road closure last Friday.

On the part of Radisson Blu, security manager Raul Peralta said the hotel has no objection to the road closure and roadwork but it needs time to make adjustments.

Citom operations chief Jonathan Tumulak also said the City needs the cooperation of all those involved, hence, the MOU.

Signatories will be DPWH 7, Cebu Ports Authority, City Government, WT Construction and business establishments represented by Cokaliong.

It was also decided during the meeting yesterday that only one side of the national
road will be closed.

Tuvilla of SM said the business establishments prefer the northbound side to be closed and the southbound side to be left open.

Other routes

A one-week postponement will allow the establishments to get involved in looking for alternative routes.

Citom was ready to implement the traffic plan for the closure yesterday.

Tumulak said the signs were already prepared but admitted that the management lacks the personnel.

It would need 40 more Citom personnel to be fielded in 14 intersections where traffic is expected to be heavy due to the closure.

These are along M.J. Cuenco, Hipodromo, Mabolo, Cebu International Port boundary and the bridge on Hernan Cortes Ext.

With Rama’s quick response to the plea of the business owners, a radio reporter asked if he would have responded this quickly if poor people had sought his help.

Rama said, “Of course. You saw how I responded to Apas and immediately established a command center.” He referred to the court-ordered demolition of 157 families’ houses in that barangay.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 11, 2014.

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