CEBU City Councilor Joy Augustus Young did not see the wisdom in Cebu copying Manila’s solutions to traffic problems.
“All those Manila technology have not really solved the problem, has it? Meaning, Manila is a failed example,” he said.
The councilor speculated that the people pushing for the establishment of big-ticket flyovers and skyways have vested interests, emphasizing that these people lobbying for skyways “cannot make big money with the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) idea.”
Young is an ally of former mayor Tomas Osmeña, who pushed for the BRT as the mass transport system for Cebu City.
President Rodrigo Duterte had promised to help Cebu City solve its traffic problem, saying it should follow the technology used in Manila such as the light rail transit (LRT).
Duterte was at the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC) on Sunday night, Jan. 19, 2020, to watch the performance of Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia with the Siloy Festival of Alcoy, a guest contingent in the Sinulog Grand Parade.
In his speech, Duterte said Cebu needs trains and skyways as its roads could not be widened, making it hard to implement the BRT.
Young said Duterte “doesn’t know much” about the BRT system.
Unified traffic system
After his speech at the CCSC, Duterte had dinner with local government officials, including Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella and Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes.
Cortes said the mayors discussed setting up a unified traffic system and coming up with traffic rules or ordinances that would be coordinated by the local government units.
Duterte last Sunday was accompanied by several officials, including Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino, who in 2017 had pushed for a rail system.
Osmeña and Dino had several verbal exchanges over the BRT issue, including questions on the feasibility of the BRT in Cebu’s narrow roads.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) initiated in 2019 the Intermodal Transportation System (IITS) in Cebu, which targets to integrate the BRT, monorail system and cable car system.
The Metro Cebu Expressway is also part of the IITS. It will connect Danao City in the north to the City of Naga in the south. The highway will traverse Cebu City’s mountain barangays, and these additional roads will connect to it.
Before the fourth quarter of 2021, the DOTr aims for the partial operability of the IITS.
Labella said he would not stop reminding Duterte until the latter’s promise is realized.
“I will not only remind him, but I will also nag him about his promise,” he said in a press conference Monday, Jan. 20.
The mayor supported the implementation of the BRT system, but it needs wider roads.
He also addressed the concerns of Vice Mayor Michael Rama, who feared that the construction of skyways would affect heritage sites. The DOTr can make adjustments to avoid causing damage to heritage and historic sites.
Rama said he would oppose projects for mass transportation that affect heritage sites. For his part, Labella appointed lawyer Jerone Castillo of the City Treasurer’s Office as the focal person for the project.
Cortes’ executive secretary John Eddu Ybañez said the fourth bridge connecting Mactan to the Cebu mainland (through Mandaue City), skyway over the UN Avenue-Cebu North Road intersection and the coastal road towards northern Cebu could help ease traffic in the city.
During peak hours, the Cebu North Road is a scene of horrendous traffic, which draws the ire of commuters who vent their frustrations on social media. (JJL, KFD)