Editorial: BRT project’s crucial phase

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014


WORLD Bank (WB) representatives who recently visited Cebu City Hall to discuss the status of the P10.6-billion Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, apparently noting the concern of some sectors that will be affected by its design and operation, sounded diplomatic as expected.

Consider what Michel Kerf, transport and ICT practice manager of the bank in East Asia and the Pacific, said: “The goal is to try to optimize the design of the project so as to maximize its benefits and minimize its negative impact.”

He was talking about the crucial phase of the BRT plan, which is to conduct a study on the detailed engineering design, when “all options will have to be looked at.” The study will begin in January next year and will be completed in six to 12 months.

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Kerf didn’t say the project won’t have a negative impact; rather, he explained that the negative impact will be minimized. He said this while insisting that “social concerns have to be addressed to make sure there is full support from the general population.”

A project of this magnitude will affect many sectors. Its biggest impact will be on the transport sector, specifically on public utility jeepney (PUJ) drivers and operators. Other sectors are also expressing concerns on the status of trees and heritage sites in the BRT route.

There are late objections, like those regarding the inclusion of Osmeña Blvd. in the BRT route. Some sectors even went to the extent of calling Osmeña Blvd. a “ceremonial street that shouldn’t be touched.” And then the trees, 2,000 of them by estimates, that may have to be cut.

But those concerns should not hamper the full implementation of the project. Some of these can be considered in the crafting of the detailed engineering design, but the project proponents may have to let go of the others. That’s what Kerf meant about minimizing the project’s negative impact and maximizing its benefits.

This requires the openness and objectivity of affected sectors and their organizations. The BRT is a game-changer as far as the city’s transport system is concerned and its operation benefits the majority. But its realization may require sacrifices from many of us.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 04, 2014.

Opinion

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