Changes, big and small, for big-ticket infrastructure

NOT even the gallons of water surrounding her office could ease the dryness Ruby felt in her throat as she counted the day’s earnings her water refilling station made last Tuesday.

For a station that caters to at least 30 customers carrying a minimum of six gallons each to be refilled every day, Ruby found it perplexing to have only P400 when they could easily make P3,000 by lunchtime on any regular day. (She asked that she not be named in this story.)

But Tuesday wasn’t any day, since that day also marked the official start of work on the construction of Phase 2 of the P638-million underpass project on N. Bacalso Ave. in Cebu City.

The infrastructure project will have six lanes, which will include a two-lane underpass and two service roads on both sides with two lanes each.

Since the road will have six lanes, several structures, mostly commercial buildings will be affected by the project.

According to project manager Engr. Roy dela Cruz of the Department of Public Works and Highways 7, civil works for the project is expected to last for 18 months and will be implemented in stages. Phase 2 alone is expected to run in the next three to four months.

Upon learning this, Ruby said she never thought that the strategic location she chose a decade ago to start her station could strain her business in the next couple of years.

“If this is how it’s going to be in the coming months, imagine how it’s going to be once the underpass is finished. This is just the first day, and we’re already losing thousands of revenue. We’re going to have so much difficulty in keeping up with the salaries of my workers and the rent,” she told SunStar Cebu.

Ruby admitted fearing having to resort to closing her business since the underpass would mean no parking space for her delivery trucks and customers.

Room to park

The same fear haunts Rolando Arao, a salesman for an auto parts shop along the southbound lane of the affected area.

Once Phase 2 is finished by the end of the year, civil works for the next stage, which will be on the southbound lane, will start in the first quarter of 2018.

The shop, which was built some 20 years ago, has become a household name for some car owners in the city, but its operations may be disrupted once the underpass project is finished.

“Since there will be no more parking space, our customers will obviously go to a more convenient shop. I just hope our shop can adjust to that,” Arao said in Cebuano.

Arao and his eight other minimum wage earner colleagues, though, remain positive that their patrons will not abandon them and that the underpass could resolve traffic in the area.

But for 18-year-old Kim Diamante, who may not have a business to operate in the area, the underpass is more of an inconvenience rather than a mitigating measure.

A second year college student in a university in the city proper, Diamante said that because of the heavy traffic the construction is causing, especially during the morning rush, she now has to wake up two hours earlier to make sure she reaches school before her 7 a.m. class starts.

She lamented she could have spent the extra two hours for more sleep, since she stays up until past midnight to study.

“I don’t think the underpass is really necessary because although congestion may be experienced sometimes in the area, it’s not really up to the point where it’s bumper-to-bumper,” Diamante said.

Diamante, however, clarified that she is giving the project the benefit of the doubt. “I could be doubtful now, but then again, all developments need adjustment. Maybe all we could see is the sudden change in our daily activities, but we might just be surprised with how we could benefit from the underpass in the future.”
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