THE Commission on Audit (COA) has recommended the filing of cases against officials from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) over the delay in the implementation of the multi-billion Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.
Under the 2016 audit report of COA for DOTr, the auditing office has noted that the delay in the implementation of the project has caused the accumulation of P8.06 million commitment fees.
COA also recommended that the DOTr officials should be held liable for the commitment fees incurred.
Based on records, COA said $198.5 million is still available to fund the BRT project but the implementation was delayed due to procurement process and the road-right-of-way acquisition problem.
Since last week, the project implementation unit of BRT has started the lot acquisition procedure by sending out the formal offer for the payment of properties that will be affected by the project.
Although there will be no road widening for the project, the government has to acquire properties along the route for bus stops and terminals, among other facilities.
In 2014, the National Government entered into a loan agreement with Agence Francaise Development and World Bank through International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Clean Technology Fund for the implementation of the BRT.
Apart from the additional cost, state auditors said the delay also deprived the public of the benefits that could have been enjoyed from the early use of BRT.
Although DOTr will be responsible in answering the audit observation, lawyer Rafael Christopher Yap, who heads the BRT implementing unit, said they will give inputs to the national agency on the updates of the project.
On the issue of procurement, Yap said the Department of Budget and Management will take over the matter after it entered into a memorandum of agreement with DOTr last March.
To prevent more delays, COA recommended that DOTr prepare a revised detailed time schedule and a catch-up work plan that prioritizes the settlement of the land acquisition. (RVC)
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on August 13, 2017.
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