Businesses oppose 'link to port' project

Businesses oppose 'link to port' project
SunStar Cebu City

AT LEAST four business establishments along Osmeña Blvd. in Cebu City have raised concerns to the City Council about the proposed Link to the Port project, citing the potential worsening of traffic conditions in the downtown area and negative economic impacts.

The businesses also criticized a recent meeting with the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) proponent, which was supposed to be a venue for them to air their concerns, but instead “turned into a presentation of the proposed project.”

The business establishments claimed a lack of consideration on the DOTr’s part of their concerns regarding the project. The businesses, however, did not specify in their position paper the date of the said meeting.

Meanwhile, asked twice on Thursday, June 27, 2024, whether the Link to the Port project was part of the original CBRT plan, Imbong, in a text message, did not give a direct response, instead stating that it was part of the recent National Economic and Development Authority’s (Neda) plan.

However, Imbong did not explain what was included in Neda’s plan.

Position paper

Representatives of MyJoy, Best Buy Mart Inc., All Pet Supplies, and Metro Retail Stores Group Inc. submitted on Wednesday, June 26, a position paper to the council outlining their objections to the planned Link to the Port feature of CBRT.

Purita Sih, owner of All Pet Supplies, wrote a letter on June 20 to the council stating that the CBRT management had met with affected business owners regarding the project; however, Sih reiterated that the proponent was unable to provide concrete answers to their questions and concerns.

Sih noted that the CBRT proponent only discussed the project’s specifications, particularly the preservation of the city’s heritage district in the downtown area.

The council referred the letters to the Office of the Ombudsman, Office of the Acting Mayor, and CBRT management for review.

Under the proposed Link to the Port project, the four-lane Osmeña Blvd. in the downtown area will be reduced to a two-lane road. This change aims to accommodate a higher number of pedestrians and reduce the volume of motor vehicles.

However, Sih said that once finished, the project will cause traffic congestion not only on Osmeña Blvd. but on the connecting roads and streets as well.

Sih added that the proposed project was supposedly done for the sake of beautification instead of effective road management.

In a separate letter, Ingrid Gamboa, representative of fast-food chain MyJoy, said reducing the vehicle lane along Osmeña Blvd. will affect their deliveries and drop-offs, and the wholesale activities of the businesses in the area.

Gamboa stressed that Osmeña Blvd. is a national road, hence the highway must be able to accommodate large volumes of motor vehicles.

MyJoy’s representative argued that based on their years of experience, particularly during the annual Sinulog Festival and on a daily basis, the existing sidewalk along Osmeña Blvd. is often occupied by vagrants and street vendors who block their storefront.

Gamboa expressed concern that additional pedestrian space would similarly be filled with more street vendors and vagrants.

“Will the LGU have enough manpower to enforce the law covering all the additional square meters or pedestrian space?” Gamboa said.

Gamboa said the existing sidewalks are already enough to accommodate a huge influx of pedestrians traversing the downtown area.

Glenda Navares of the Metro Retail Stores Group said if the proposal proceeds, it may result in loss of income for business establishments along the area and a reduction of manpower due to road closure.

The project, she said, will also affect the accessibility of the downtown area to the general public engaging with the business.

She added that with a single lane and fewer vehicles, the public will be forced to carry heavy loads of items and supplies bought from the commercial establishments along the area.

‘Improve the existing sidewalk’

Instead, the Metro Retail Stores Group and Best Buy Mart Inc. recommended improving the existing sidewalk, including removal of obstructions, such as ambulant vendors, redesigning the sidewalk pavement, and repairing the pavement and lights along the sidewalk. / EHP

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