CEBU needs to speed up the full restoration of its utilities as delays are painting a negative impression of Cebu as a business destination in the global scene, a business leader said.

“There is a need to accelerate the full restoration of our utilities damaged by Typhoon Odette because investors are looking at us. They are looking at how we can easily get back on our feet, but these delays are not helping us,” said Rey Calooy, chairman of the Filipino-Cebuano Business Club Inc., a business organization representing Cebu’s micro, small and medium enterprises.

While typhoons and other natural calamities are beyond local government units’ (LGUs) control, Calooy is afraid the delays in fixing power, water and telco networks might send a negative impression to would-be investors to Cebu.

“The latest typhoon was the acid test to our government leaders at how quickly they can mobilize and fix things that are broken. I’m afraid that with the kind of speed (in restoration) we have now, investors may shy away from doing business here,” he said.

“Businesses aren’t just after profits; they want reliability and sustainability of their operations. We need to rebuild fast; otherwise, we will be left behind. Cebu will be left behind,” Calooy added.

After Tyhoon Odette (Rai) hit parts of the Visayas and Mindanao on December 16, 2021, businesses in Cebu have been disrupted. Several “plug and play” office facilities were immediately leased out in the aftermath of the typhoon as locators raced to keep their operations running, especially among the business process management (BPM) firms.

“Several information technology-BPM players have signed leases in such facilities in the short term or until electricity providers reenergize their employees’ respective areas,” Colliers International Philippines said in a statement.

According to a report, the full restoration of network services is expected to be completed in the middle of March 2022.

As of Thursday, February 3, PLDT and Smart’s wireless network, call, text and mobile data services in Cebu were at around 90 percent restored. Fixed network services such as Wi-Fi connections, and restoration in some parts of Cebu are still affected by the availability of commercial power and restoration of fiber optic cable facilities.

Rival Globe Telecom, on the other hand, said it has restored 89 percent of its wireless services and around 87 percent of its wired/Fiber to the Home internet services as of Friday, February 4.

Globe also admitted that restoration for its wired services is “more complicated” due to various factors including the availability of commercial power, challenges due to multiple fiber cuts and ongoing road clearing operations by the LGUs and service utility firms.

In its latest available advisory, Visayan Electric said it has energized 452,549 of the 474,182 affected customers in its franchise area as of 12 noon of Monday, February 8, 2022. Energized areas are from the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Talisay and Naga and from the municipalities of San Fernando, Minglanilla, Consolacion and Liloan.

The Metropolitan Cebu Water District also hasn’t fully restored its water production because it is dependent on the re-energization progress of Visayan Electric.