A MALL developer expressed willingness to develop the roads in the South Road Properties (SRP) to ensure that these will be functional by the time its property opens in the last quarter of this year.
SM regional operations manager Sherry Tuvilla told the Cebu City Council that the cost of building the roads in the SRP can be converted into tax credits for SM Prime Holdings Inc.
Tuvilla said that the road development is necessary for the high-quality public transport system (HQPTS) that will serve the SM Seaside City.
She told the City Council in an executive session that the HQPTS will involve hybrid buses.
The HQPTS will have 77 13-meter-long buses that will serve the routes Talisay-SRP-Mambaling, North Bus Terminal-SM City Cebu-Downtown-SRP-Mambaling, Talisay-SRP-Downtown-SM City Cebu-North Bus, and Talisay-SRP-Plaza Independencia-SM City Cebu-Mactan Cebu International Airport.
Tuvilla told the council that SM Prime hopes to have the HQPTS operational by October.
The routes were approved by the Department of Transportation and Communication last January and SM is only waiting for the franchise to be issued by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.
Tuvilla said the buses are expected to arrive in August.
To meet the target date, the road network has to be completed by August as well.
Tuvilla said that the road development is among the Cebu City Government’s responsibilities.
Other deliverables of the local government are the establishment of a bus priority lane in the HQPTS routes, installation of traffic signal lights and signs, and the widening of the Mambaling Access Road.
“The widening of that area (Mambaling) is critical,” Tuvilla said.
Councilor Margarita Osmeña said that considering the usual pace of government projects, the road development that SM requires would not be completed on time.
“I'm seeing the urgency of the situation. I'm afraid it will not be accomplished before you need it,” she told Tuvilla.
She asked Tuvilla if SM Prime can implement the road development and get tax credits in exchange.
“We already did that in the past. It is an open thing. It is just a matter of how the City wants this to be treated,” Tuvilla said.
Mayor Michael Rama earlier said he is not in favor of tax credits as the scheme would deprive some services and projects of funds.
But Tuvilla said that Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias will be filing a legislative intervention seeking to convert the Mambaling Access Road from a local road to a national road.
Once converted, its widening will be undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
DPWH 7's chief planning and design officer Nonato Paylado, who also appeared before the council, said a feasibility study is being conducted for the widening of the Mambaling road.
He said it will be widened from only two lanes on both sides to four lanes on both sides.
Its cost, he said, is yet to be determined.
Next week, the City Council said that it will pass legislative interventions to help SM, the second investor to buy a property in the SRP, implement the HQPTS.