AFTER all the bashing he got online for his plan to remove some of the trees on Pope John Paul Ave., Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama asked his critics: “What’s your alternative?”
Rama said yesterday that he is used to being criticized, but it will not keep him from removing the center island from the corner of the Cardinal Rosales Ave. (Ayala intersection) to Gov. Cuenco Ave. (under the flyover) as a way of easing traffic congestion in the area.
Trees on the island will be earth-balled and will be transferred to the City-owned lot in the North Reclamation Area.
The City Government, however, has yet to get a tree-cutting permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
In his news conference yesterday, the mayor clarified that it will be done not just for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit next month and the International Eucharistic Congress next year.
“I have to address the traffic problem in that area now because if I don’t, the situation will be worse in the future… So to those who are opposing, let me ask… what is your alternative?” Rama said yesterday.
The center island will be replaced with a steel railing that can be removed when necessary.
It is also in preparation for Rama’s plan to make Pope John Paul Ave. a one-way road in the future.
The mayor said in a news conference yesterday that the Ayala intersection on Pope John Paul Ave. is a bottleneck, with vehicles coming from three directions taking the route to go to IT Park.
At City Hall yesterday, Rama waited for a group of young advocates of environment conservation whom he invited to a meeting so he can explain his plan to them and make them understand why it has to be done.
He learned from his son, lawyer Mikel Rama, that the group opposes his plan to remove the trees.
Heritage advocate Balbino Guerrero also wrote an open letter asking Rama not to cut the trees.
His blog was widely shared in a social networking site, drawing the same appeal from other Cebu City residents.
“Mr. Mayor, please do not cut these trees. Doing so would not only be sacrilegious to Saint John Paul II; it would be bad for a city that’s trying to show itself as liveable and earth-friendly. Besides, no amount of tree-cutting will ever compensate for good traffic planning and enforcement. Otherwise, we might as well cut all the trees in our city and trust that our traffic situation will improve right away,” his blog read.
He said there are about 34 trees from one end of the center island at the corner of the Ayala access road to the other end near the flyover.
Meanwhile, Rama said he does not see anything wrong with City Hall’s move to have investors at the South Road Properties (SRP) shoulder the expenses for the conduct of a study for the drainage master plan for SRP.
He said he does not believe that it will turn off future SRP investors since it is part of the developers’ corporate social responsibility.
To address the flooding problem affecting the projects of Filinvest Land Inc. and SM Prime Holdings in the SRP, the City Government agreed with both companies that the latter would commission private contractors to conduct a study and come up with a drainage plan.
The City, for its part, will fund the implementation of the drainage plan and construct the needed flood prevention projects.