TRANSPORTATION Secretary Arthur Tugade visited Cebu last July 6 and announced that three components of the mass transport system, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), monorail and cable cars will be partially operable by late 2021. Together with World Bank, South Korean and Philippine officials, he also inspected the site of the proposed common station for all three systems in Barangay Apas.
This is good news for Cebuanos. But do we have to be served three major mass transport systems simultaneously plus the promise of partial operability in such a short span of time? Surely, we cannot be faulted if we express a healthy dose of skepticism. To his credit, DOTr Secretary Tugade did clarify that foreign consultants still have to prepare detailed engineering designs and that completion will take three or more years, well beyond 2021.
Secretary Tugade’s announcement comes straight out of the politician’s playbook and should be viewed as such. In itself, tackling three large mass transport projects in one go requires a herculean effort. Why not focus on one, or if at the most, two systems? That way, we can scale down public expectations to realistic levels.
Still, Cebuanos can take comfort from the personal attention given by Secretary Tugade to our mass transport problem. He is after all President Duterte’s alter ego and his visit is a strong indication that our President has not forgotten Cebu. Remember that President Duterte promised the Cebuanos a mass transport system in return for their support for local PDP-Laban candidates, specifically Mayor Edgardo Labella.
Cebu deserves a proper mass transport system as befits the second largest metropolitan area in the country. We had the BRT hanging around for years but never saw anything beyond conceptual designs. Hopefully, this time we will have a clear path to the final completion of a mass transport system be it BRT, MRT or cable cars or all three. Keep your fingers crossed.