Sunday August 19, 2018

Editorial: Technically viable

Editorial Cartoon by John Gilbert Manantan

IT is now the word of the World Bank and Agence Francaise de Developement (French Development Agency) as against that of Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade. Or at least that is how it has come to as far as the appraisal on the viability of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Cebu City is concerned.

Tugade and Dino, together with some supposed experts they presented, oppose the implementation of the BRT in Cebu City by insisting that the roads here are too narrow to allow the setting up of a dedicated lane for buses in the targeted route. But the World Bank and French Development Agency mission reported that “as designed (the BRT) is technically viable and that moving forward will allow us to optimize the project design.”

That should take the wind out of the sails of the opposition by Dino and Tugade of the implementation of the BRT project here, an opposition that a lawmaker used to push for the shift of the funding for the Cebu BRT to Metro Manila. After all, the people that composed the World Bank and French Development Agency mission were no slouches but knowledgeable of what they were talking about.

“BRT projects have been successfully operated on existing narrow roads and there are technical solutions that have addressed the concerns expressed about the project. The consultants to be hired are expected to help address these concerns,” the World Bank report noted.

This, in turn, is an indictment of the refusal by Tugade and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to follow the timetable of the project’s implementation, including its act of downsizing the project’s implementation unit. In a way, that has put into question the intentions of Tugade and the DOTr as far as the BRT project in Cebu City is concerned.

The BRT is the first mass transport system project for Cebu that already has funds and timetable for implementation. The other systems that Tugade and Dino favor, like the light rail transit (LRT) is still years from being realized. It would be a shame, therefore, that the years spent and all the efforts poured into the BRT project would be wasted for reasons other than, say, technical viability.