Problems in implementing BRT project

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014


DETAINED senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla have no reason to complain of loneliness. Every day and night, they can ask people to visit them in their respective cells.

In fact, the two senators, who are facing graft and plunder charges in relation to the multi-billion-peso Napoles pork barrel scam, now receive visitors every day. The police even complained that Jinggoy and Bong ignored the curfew in their prison cells.

They reportedly entertain guests until 2 o'clock in the morning.

So what else is new? Well, they are still senators and that’s why they are acting like they are.

With Revilla’s and Estrada’s billions and their popularity, we should not be surprised if every day they are being entertained by their visitors until 2 a.m. But there is no truth to the rumor that their visitors were provided with free transportation.

***

I agree that the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) project, even if its implementation has been delayed, can address the problem of the lack of decent and safer public transport in Cebu City.

But while a thorough study was conducted for this plan, the planners ignored the fact that the city's roads are narrow and there are hundreds, even thousands, of PUJ drivers that would be affected.

My apprehension on the difficulty of implementing the BRT, which was drawn during the term of former mayor Tomas Osmeña, is being supported by Woodfields's report to the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).

Remember that Tomas patterned the BRT after the bus transport system of Colombia, which has wide roads. The report said a total of 9.3 hectares of land for bus stops, bus stations and bus terminals are needed for the project.

The BRT will traverse routes that are not only narrow but are also heavily congested, especially during peak hours. The Banilad-Talamban corridor is one area of concern, not to mention Escario St.

Assuming that the landowners agree to part with their properties, road-right-of-way (RROW) acquisition and the relocation of those that will be affected would cost the government P620.5 million.

Since the lots that will be affected by the BRT project are privately owned, what if the landowners would object to government acquisition of the lots? Will the government still proceed with the project?

Acquisition alone of the RROW would take years since the city government or the Department of Public Works and Highways will have to initiate a court action against the landowners.

And before the BRT project could be started, I expect PUJ operators and drivers to initiate a transport strike, as they are the ones that would be out of business and work first during its operation.

While I am not an expert on this matter, experience tells us that setting up elevated tracks for light rail train is the better option because there will be no need to acquire lands.

PUJ operators and drivers will not be displaced since PUJs complement the LRT in areas where there is no LRT route. Of course, PUJ units should be upgraded as earlier mentioned by Director Ahmed Cuizon of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7.

I am even surprised why Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama pursued the BRT project when this was proposed by his political tormentor, Osmeña. Mayor Rama should have come up with ideas or projects he can claim as his own.

Once the BRT project is in place, I expect private citizen Tomas to brag about it even if it is a national project under the DOTC and will cost P10.6 billion in loans from the World Bank and Agence Francaise de Development.

(atty.ellieE@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 03, 2014.

Opinion

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