KEY infrastructure projects in Cebu may face slower pace of implementation as government efforts are focused on containing the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
Kenneth Cobonpue, chairman of the Regional Development Council (RDC) in Central Visayas, said planning for these projects continues from a distance.
“I have to admit that it will not be at the same pace as before because of the lack of manpower,” Cobonpue told SunStar Cebu Monday, March 30, 2020.
Many projects, he noted, require government approval at many levels and this crisis has made everything slower.
Several big-ticket projects had been lined up for Cebu such as the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Cebu City, monorail system, a new international port in Consolacion, the Metro Cebu Expressway and the planned fourth bridge.
“We are actually continuing some construction projects now that there is no traffic, but work and planning on other projects like the BRT continue from a distance,” the RDC official said.
Efren Carreon, director at the National Economic and Development Authority in Central Visayas, has also warned that businesses may expect bigger losses if the restrictions they face due to the coronavirus threat could stretch for a longer time.
Businesses in Cebu are facing their worst year of operations as the whole province enters an enhanced mass quarantine, forcing shops and offices to close temporarily, people to lose jobs and many to stay at home.
“If this will continue for a longer time, we expect bigger losses to our business establishments,” he said.
“That is why we hope for an early containment of this situation,” he pointed out.
He said disruptions are playing out on every possible scale, from individual lives to businesses.
The tourism sector in Central Visayas, for one, is estimating foregone income of $40 million a month as visitor arrivals plummet, tourism agencies cancel bookings, airlines cut flights and travel bans hit the industry big.
Meanwhile, Neda is urging local government units (LGUs) outside the National Capital Region to effectively implement better strategies to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Neda said extensive monitoring and health surveillance systems need to be undertaken to build the knowledge base, so that prevention, management and treatment can be improved.
“LGUs can help in the conduct of these systems. Smart LGUs can contribute even more. Now is the time for these LGUs to brainstorm on ways that they can contribute to this effort,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.
To contain the spread of the disease, Neda said it is important for LGUs outside of the capital to be much better prepared.
“We identified ways on how LGUs can carry out the phases 1a, 1b, and 1c of our proposed program of interventions to address the social and economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Pernia.
The country is currently at Phase 1 of the mitigating measures to minimize the duration and contain the spread of the virus. Phase 1a consists of interventions for early detection and testing, effective quarantine systems and management and treatment of cases.
Phase 1b, meanwhile, consists of public health measures such as ban on travel and crowded gatherings, school closures, flexible work arrangements, limits on business operations and work suspension.
Phase 1c, on the other hand, calls for the short-term augmentation of health facilities and human resources for health.
Pernia urged the LGUs to put up temporary outpatient consultation facilities outside of hospitals. “LGUs can expedite the issuance of permits to facilitate the local production and delivery of the needed materials for the construction of these facilities,” he said. / (CSL with PR)