Transportation department puts Cebu BRT project on hold

THE Department of Transportation (DOTr) is putting on hold the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit project following the recent pronouncements of the National Economic Development Authority (Neda).

DOTr, in a statement posted on Facebook, said that a review must be undertaken and concerns raised must be addressed "so as not to cast any doubt on the integrity of the project."

DOTr reassured the public that the decision to be made will be anchored on the DOTr's aim to enhance mobility and connectivity in the country, and to put the convenience of the riding public, on topmost priority.

On August 8, Neda released a statement clarifying concerns regarding the BRT and the LRT-Subway projects in Cebu.

Neda said it "stands firm and impartial in upholding standard practices and appropriate Neda Board processes for all infrastructure project proposals."

In a press conference on August 4, Neda Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the Cebu BRT project is nearing implementation and is already in the advanced stages of approval, while a feasibility study has yet to be submitted for the Cebu LRT project to the DOTr and Neda.

Pernia met up with Presidential Assistant for Visayas Michael Dino in Cebu Waterfront Hotel after the press conference. Pernia, then, learned of Dino's proposal of a hybrid LRT-Subway project in which it "includes an LRT line that runs from the south of Cebu (outside the city), and transitions into a subway line traversing the Cebu City Center. It then shifts again into an LRT line going north of the city."

Pernia personally found this proposal conceptually better than the BRT, given the narrow streets of Cebu City.

However, Pernia clarified that the LRT-Subway proposal will still have to undergo the rigorous and long processes of project proposal and approval.

As standard practice for all big-ticket public projects, proposals are brought to the concerned line agency with a completed Feasibility Study (FS).

Should FS findings show the projects’ economic viability, these proposals will be thoroughly evaluated by the Neda Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) Technical Board prior to the Neda ICC Cabinet Committee, then the NEDA Board for final approval.

READ: Osmeña accuses Pernia of abuse of authority

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña plans to file an administrative case against Perniam saying what the latter said constituted abuse of authority.

The BRT had a project cost of P10.6 billion when it was approved by the Neda Board in 2014 under the Benigno Aquino III administration.

The amount went up to P16.9 billion because of the road right-of-way acquisition cost. (Jo Ann Sablad/SunStar Philippines)
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