THE Cebu City Government, together with the proponents of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT), decided on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023, to demolish two skywalks along Osmeña Blvd. starting Friday, Dec. 8.
CBRT project manager Norvin Imbong confirmed this after meeting with Cebu City officials.
He said they are complying with Mayor Michael Rama’s request to have the structures removed before his return from Australia on Dec. 20.
One of the skywalks is located in front of the Cebu Normal University (CNU), while the other is in front of the Department of Health (DOH) 7 office.
In a separate interview, City Councilor Jerry Guardo, committee on infrastructure chairman, said two recommendations were submitted as to the final fate of the two skywalks, taking into consideration the ongoing civil works for the first package of the CBRT and the religious processions that will take place in January as part of the Fiesta Señor.
The options were either to demolish the two structures, which will take only 10 days, or carefully uproot their foundation and transfer these to another location, which will take 30 days.
Guardo said they have already secured permits and clearances for the undertaking, including documents for endorsement to the Commission on Audit.
He said the Office of the Building Official already lifted its suspension order for the demolition of the two skywalks last Nov. 30, the same day the City Legal Office confirmed that ownership of the structures was already transferred to the City Government from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Due to time constraints and questions surrounding the structural integrity of the two skywalks if these were to be disassembled in parts and reused for another purpose, Imbong said it was better to just demolish the structures.
“If we would preserve it, then we have to carefully and slowly remove the structure. In comparison to demolishing it, then it is much easier to be done,” Imbong said.
He said the Chinese contractor, Hunan Road and Bridge Construction Group Ltd., will spearhead the demolition one at a time.
He said the demolition of a single skywalk will take between five and seven days to finish.
He said the contractor will start with the skywalk in front of CNU.
Imbong said they are waiting for the City Government to endorse a proposal to build two new skywalks that will be placed in strategic locations so this can be sent to the central office.
City Transportation Office head Raquel Arce, reacting to the days allocated to demolish the two structures, said, “the shorter, the better.”
Arce assured that the whole stretch of Osmeña Blvd. will not be closed to vehicular traffic all at once during the demolition. They will reroute traffic, she said.
She said motorists from Fuente Osmeña Circle bound for downtown will turn right at R.R. Landon St. and turn right at Junquera St., while vehicles from downtown and N. Bacalso Ave. bound for Fuente Osmeña Circle will turn left at Don Pedro Cui from P. del Rosario St., turn right at R.R. Landon and then left at D. Jakosalem before heading to F. Ramos St.
When the skywalk in front of the DOH 7 office is demolished, vehicles going uptown will be diverted to Arlington Pond St. exiting F. Ramos St. and vice versa.
The demolition of the two skywalks has been delayed for months due to the question of ownership.
The DPWH, as the implementing agency of the construction of the two structures funded by a national allocation, was able to transfer the ownership of the skywalks to the City Government as the end-user of the facilities.
Acting Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia accepted the ownership papers last Nov. 6.
North District Rep. Rachel “Cutie” del Mar earlier objected to the demolition of the two skywalks that were projects of the late deputy speaker Raul del Mar, her father.
She said the two structures served the needs of nearby students and other pedestrians.
She said destroying them would be a waste of public funds, adding that these were better off being incorporated into the design of the CBRT.
However, CBRT proponents said a redesign would incur additional cost, plus they would be building pedestrian crossings as part of the project.
The two skywalks that were built 30 years ago were estimated to have cost P9 million.