FORMER Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña is not sitting out the May 2022 elections. He is running for congressman in Cebu City’s south district.

His major campaign rally: the long-delayed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.

Speaking to reporters minutes before he filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for congressman Thursday morning, Oct. 7, 2021, Osmeña said he will prioritize the implementation of the BRT project if he wins.

He accused Secretary Michael Dino of the Office of the Presidential Assistant (Opav) of “stealing” and “blocking” the BRT project. This is why the project got stalled, he said.

But Dino, in a written statement sent to SunStar Cebu, said the BRT design Osmeña had presented was “a disaster waiting to happen and had to undergo major revisions.”

Osmeña: “May nag-approve na ang World Bank (WB) og P16 billion. Gisaaran ni Dino nga, ‘Next year naa nay monorail.’ That’s five years ago. Nahunong gyod ang atong proyekto tungod ni Dino.”

Dino: “(The Osmeña version of BRT design) did not consider the limitations of existing infrastructure. One cannot just conceptualize and introduce a new mode of transportation without a proper integration model that blends design with urban landscape seamlessly.”

Osmeña: “Ang BRT nga gikawat ni Dino, iyang giblock ni Dino. Importante gyod na sa south district. Mao na akong number one priority.”

Dino: “For Tommy to say that the project was stolen from him, it was definitely not. It is not his in the first place. It is both a national and local initiative, now redesigned, recalibrated and revised for the good of the Cebuano people. Further, he claims that the BRT project was delayed unnecessarily. The present BRT abides by the law and does not circumvent any process including feasibility studies, appropriation of funds, expropriation of necessary lots, and road widening among others.” The World Bank approved in September 2014 a US $141-million financial package for the project, consisting of a $116-million loan from the World Bank and a $25-million loan from the Clean Technology Fund.

The 39.88-kilometer Cebu BRT project has funds amounting to US$198 million from the French government, through the Agence Francaise de Développement and the World Bank.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) targets to have the first package of the BRT project partially operational by December 2021, but actual civil works for the first phase have yet to start. The bidding for the civil works of the Cebu BRT first package is still under bid evaluation by the Special Bids and Awards Committee as of May 2021.

Dino, in his statement, said that with the changes in the project’s technical design, the BRT as part of the Cebu Integrated Intermodal Transport System (CIITS) now covers a 35- kilometer road corridor of which 13.2 kms. are dedicated bus ways from the South Road Properties (SRP) in the southeast to the north and, 22.1 kms. of three segments considered as feeder services.

He said these feeder segments are: Mambaling- Talisay (8.7 kms.); SRP-Talisay (8.2 kms.), and IT Park to Talamban (5.2 kms.).

Dino said this is far better than the original 21.58-km. corridor route with 16 kms. of segregated bus lanes.

He said public transportation should not only focus on a singular mode.

“It should be a network of different modes that are interconnected harmoniously so that people can have ease of access and convenience of travel,” Dino said.

“Should Tommy pursue his version of the BRT Project, Cebu City and perhaps its neighboring LGUs would have plunged into chronic traffic gridlock. The dreaming Tommy’s BRT design was not meant to alleviate traffic in Cebu City, a problem he never really effectively addressed as Mayor for 30 years. It was more for personal gain,” he said.

Dino said the current BRT of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Cebu City is nearing its partial operability and it is paired with another project, the digital traffic system.

He also said in coming out with these claims during this election season, Osmeña only wants “to get the credit” for the BRT project. (WBS)