A COMPREHENSIVE and realistic master plan that will improve the traffic situation of Cebu City may be crafted by July 2022.

This, as the Cebu City Traffic Summit will most likely be scheduled at the start of Mayor Michael Rama's new term in July, Councilor James Cuenco, chairman of the committee on transportation, told SunStar Cebu Thursday, May 26.

The traffic summit is one of Rama's "21 gun salute projects" to honor his predecessor, the late mayor Edgardo Labella.

Cuenco said the proposed traffic summit will be inclusive and include all stakeholders and neighboring cities in Metro Cebu.

The councilor added that they will also invite traffic-expert firms in Southeast Asia that have the expertise in "formulating a comprehensive and realistic traffic master plan for the metropolis."

Among the topics that will be discussed at the summit are the proposed mass transport system for Cebu City such as the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), monorail and subway system.

Before the World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 pandemic on March 11, 2020, the elevated monorail project for Cebu of tycoon Dennis Uy’s Udenna Infrastructure Corp. had already been scheduled for evaluation by the National Economic and Development Authority-Investment Coordination Committee after the Department of Transportation (DOTr) completed the submission of the proposal.

The P80 billion monorail project had been envisioned to serve as the mass transport backbone of Metro Cebu, traversing Cebu City all the way to the Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu City for its first phase. The second phase was to run from Talisay City to Mandaue City, while the third phase was to be from Carcar City to Danao City.

President Rodrigo Duterte had promised during the Sinulog celebration on Jan. 19 of that year to look for funding for Cebu’s train. However, all talk on the unsolicited monorail proposal evaporated when the pandemic struck and changed the national government’s priorities to socio-economic spending.

The monorail system and another Cebu project, a P52 billion fourth bridge to link the Cebu mainland with Mactan Island, were the projects pushed then to solve Cebu’s congestion problem.

Development on the proposed fourth Cebu-Mactan bridge has been stymied by disagreements on the appropriate site for the landing of the bridge.

As for the much-delayed Cebu BRT project, which will stretch up to 23 kilometers of roads from Barangay Bulacao in the south to Talamban in the north, the DOTr had posted last February an invitation to bid for the construction of infrastructure from Capitol to the Cebu South Bus Terminal and an enhancement of the link to the Cebu port that would form part of the BRT project.

However, the agency gave no updates after the deadline of the invitation expired on April 4, prompting Cuenco to say last April 28 that he would push for a subway system in the city rather than continue the implementation of the BRT, as its current design could also aggravate the city’s traffic woes anyway due to the narrow roads included in the project’s routes.

When completed, the Cebu BRT project would be able to deploy 250 buses that can carry 60,000 passengers daily.

New administration

On the traffic summit, Cuenco said there are just minor adjustments being done to the personnel of the Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) and they are still waiting for the convening of the new Cebu City Traffic Operations Management Board before the summit can be convened.

Paul Gotiong, CCTO's deputy head for operations and spokesperson, said the adjustments with the personnel are "normal, especially when there is a new administration."

Gotiong added that this or next week, all personnel of the CCTO will be subjected to interviews and assessment.

Gotiong said the CCTO fully supports the traffic summit to have a concrete traffic plan for the city.

"It is very important to convene a traffic summit in order to have a concrete traffic plan for the city, which I believe we do not have yet or (it is already) outdated," said Gotiong.