THE special Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) has declared a Luzon-based contractor as the lowest bidder for the construction of the structural foundation of the new Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) building. Quezon City-based C.E. Padilla Construction placed a bid of P514,979,659 for the P600-million project.

Normally, developments like this would make the city’s constituents upbeat because it means that a project will finally be implemented. But considering how the CCMC bidding process has meandered in the past, people could not be blamed if they get jaded.

It has been almost two years since the magnitude 7.2 earthquake devastated some areas in Bohol and Cebu provinces. That earthquake affected the structural integrity of the old CCMC building, prompting the mayor to order its demolition with the promise that a new and modern structure would rise in its stead.

Much noise was generated by the project. The Cebu City Government launched a “piso-piso” campaign, calling the new CCMC the “people’s hospital.” The mayor sought donations here and abroad even as the Cebu City Council appropriated money to partly fund the construction of the building. Many thought the speed with which the old CCMC building was demolished showed the City’s intention to immediately finish the project.

Bidding for the first phase, which is the construction of the structural foundation, was conducted last year but it became controversial and the mayor eventually declared it a failure. Then the process stalled. The mayor focused on things other than restarting the bidding process.

In the meantime, CCMC operates in a cramped Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) 7 building. Patients and hospital personnel endure the setup while waiting for the new CCMC structure to rise.

The special BAC will still conduct a post-qualification review of the lowest bidder. The review will supposedly take between seven and 30 days. Barring any hitches, the BAC should already award the contract next month, after which work on Phase 1 will start.

But considering that after almost two years not even one post has been erected at the cleared site, it’s difficult to be optimistic about the date of the completion of the project.