Tell it to SunStar: Bridge mania in Central Visayas

MANY experts see the need for mass transport systems but what politicians decide to build are four-lane car bridges:

Cebu-Cordova Link Bridge

Cebu-Bohol Friendship Bridge

Cebu-Negros Bridge

Bohol-Leyte Bridge

Panay-Negros-Guimaras Link Bridge

These inter-Visayas bridges are extremely expensive to build into the not so shallow inter-Philippine seas. They are delicate, easily destructible by earthquakes, storms and waves. The build – operate – transfer scheme is questionable because people will think it over twice to pay toll or travel by fast-craft or RORO car ferries. The investors will have a long time before they come into the profit zone if ever.

Some 46 percent of Filipino households have no car, 38 percent have one car, and 16 percent have more than one car. The latter group may enjoy the bridges because for them money is peanuts. The great majority will never use them. For me these bridges are superfluous, a waste of money and effort that contrasts with the numerous projects that are far more urgent. The bridges are big white elephants.

There are brighter ideas: Cebu Sixth District Representative Jonas Cortes proposes a fourth link, a dual-mode bridge from Consolacion to Mactan Airport which will have six lanes, two of which will be for a train.

But what then? Will the train shuttle back to Consolacion? No, it must connect in a big loop not only the MCIA, but also Lapu-Lapu-City’s industrial, residential and touristic centers from New Town down the East-coast to Cordova and then what, if the planners have not provided a track for a train on or under the third bridge? A fifth bridge?

Traffic congestion will go on and get worse without railroads. More cars and more jeepneys bringing thousands of workers to Mactan’s factories will congest any amount of car bridges.

The backbone of Cebu’s train system will be a rail track from Naga to Danao, at first. The LLC Loop should join it at Consolacion and Cebu Harbor.

But what really would take out the heavy and light long-distance traffic off the cities from San Fernando to Bogo on the east coast and from Samboan to San Remigio on the west coast is a super-highway in Cebu’s interior snaking through the mountain passes with bridges and tunnels. Much earth will be moved and much anapog will be dynamited. That is the opportunity to build rain water-retaining dams for irrigation, drinking-water supply and electricity generation.

Not feasible? Train tracks and auto routes go from Italy over the much higher Alps to the central European countries.

Building takes time but feasible and financeable it is. Lacking only is far-sighted political will.--Erich Wannemacher, a German expat residing in Lapu-Lapu City
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