IMPLEMENTATION of the P10.6-billion Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Cebu City might again be delayed for another year after the previous administration reportedly failed to sign the project’s consultancy contract.
The BRT, a mass transport system, has been identified as one of the ways road traffic may be eased. Once in place, it will have 33 bus stations with 176 buses and is projected to serve 330,000 passengers daily.
Mayor Tomas Osmeña, who said he found out about the absence of a signed contract yesterday through a World Bank (WB) representative, lamented that a rebidding on the consultancy might have to be done, which will cause another delay.
“We’re now trying to find out why. Apart from this, everything else is moving smoothly,” he told reporters in his news conference yesterday.
The bidding process was done in the first half of this year, at the end of the election period.
However, the previous administration, for reasons that have yet to be verified, failed to sign the contract for consultancy, which is essential for the project implementation to start.
Osmeña explained that the absence of a signed contract was the most serious concern raised during his meeting with WB, BRT proponents and BRT Cebu Project Manager Atty. Rafael Yap yesterday.
As this developed, the mayor turned to former DOTr (then Department of Transportation and Communications) secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya to ask for a “valid reason” why the document was not signed.
Abaya, however, denied having any memory of not signing the contract and added that he has yet to verify the matter with the former undersecretary in charge of the project’s procurement for technical support.
“Firstly, we have to identify the problem. I don’t know what really happened. Then we’ll see what we can do to remedy the problem. If they say I have to fly to Manila, talk to whoever, I’ll do so. Right now, without the consultant, we don’t have any movement,” Osmeña said.
It was the mayor who introduced the project to Cebu after experiencing the BRT first-hand in Bogota, Colombia years ago.
Yap, in a separate interview, explained that the technical support services include institutional capacity-building, review and coordination of consultant outputs, among others.
While construction activities of the BRT are still moving, he said the absence of a consultant will have a huge impact on the project.
“Their deliverables are important since there is no expertise in DOTr and the City Government on the BRT. One of their tasks is to conduct a technical review of the outputs. They are also the ones who will ensure that there is coordination between the City and DOTR. The World Bank is really concerned about this,” Yap said.
The essential parts of the project that are affected by the development are the construction of the stations and the operations, he said.
Despite this, Yap remains hopeful that the procurement on the road section with no right-of-way will start before the year ends or in early 2017.
The first phase of the 16-kilometer project is the construction of bus ways, bus stations and other facilities on Osmeña Blvd., particularly the area from Fuente Osmeña to the Cebu Provincial Capitol.
The project will run from Bulacao in the south to Talamban in the north.