Briones: Mad scramble for the Palaro

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SunStar Briones
SunStar Briones

What has the Cebu City Government been doing all this time?

It had a whole year to finish the renovation and rehabilitation of the Cebu City Sports Center, which will serve as the main venue for the Palarong Pambansa 2024 that the City will be hosting in July. But from the looks of it, work is far from over.

Take for example, the installation of new rubber on the track oval.

When the track oval had its last facelift back in 2012, the whole thing – the removal of the old rubber, the scraping of the surface, the laying of the new rubber and the curing process – was completed in a few months.

To be precise, and if my memory serves me right, the track oval was closed to the public right after the Sinulog celebration in January. It was reopened later that April with Cebu’s hosting of the Private Schools Athletic Association games.

That was more than a decade ago.

I thought by now the replacement process would be much quicker. I’m pretty sure the technology has advanced to an extent that it would have been a walk in the park.

But here’s the catch, when SunStar Cebu took photos of the track oval earlier this week, there was no sign of any rubber.

Yes, the track oval’s surface has been scraped clean and covered with whatchamacallit, but that’s it.

Four hundred meters. That’s the length of the track oval, which was closed to the public more than a year ago.

Pardon me for sounding like a broken record, but let me provide you with the timeline yet again, and you can judge for yourself if there was any method to this madness.

On May 18, 2023, the City, without any prior warning, suddenly closed the facility, citing the need to repair and renovate for the Palaro.

But it wasn’t until October that year that the contract for the undertaking was awarded, some five months later. Then the contractor was given the notice to proceed sometime in January, another three months.

I know I already wrote about this in my last column, but what I didn’t know then but I know now is that the City is behind on other things.

Last Wednesday, May 29, the City Council approved the request of the executive department for an additional budget of P65 million for the renovation and rehabilitation of the CCSC.

Then Joel Reston, officer-in-charge of the Department of Engineering and Public Works, dropped the bombshell that the budget had nothing to do with the City’s preparations for the games.

By the way, this is on top of the P205 million from the supplemental budget and P200 million from general funds.

Reston said he hopes work will be completed in time for the Palaro.

The P65 million will be spent on the renovation of the facility’s electrical wiring and fire protection measures.

And also, the last time I checked construction of the P47-million grandstand extension has yet to start. The budget is covered by the P205 million from the supplemental budget.

Today is June 1. That means, the City has 36 days to do what must be done before the opening of the largest sporting event in the country.

It will have no choice but to scramble if it doesn’t want to fall flat on its face in front of more than 10,000 student-athletes and coaches from the 17 regions of the country who will be converging in the city.

And yet the City had more than a year to prepare, so why wait till the very last minute?

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