CBRT Package 1 operation may be delayed again

CBRT Package 1 operation may be delayed again
File photo

THE first package of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) project may not be operational in July 2024.

“Ni-commit ta’g July, pero naay stoppage nga nahitabo. Normal nga ma-delay jud, pero bisan tuod nga wala sila nakatrabaho didto, naa pa man lain nga stations nga angay trabahoon,” said Norvin Imbong, CBRT project manager, in a phone interview on Monday, March 25, 2024.

(We initially said it would be operational by July, but a portion of the project has been put on hold. A delay is only normal, but even though they cannot work near the Capitol there are other stations that they can work on.)

The first package covers a distance of 2.38 kilometers from the Cebu South Bus Terminal along N. Bacalso Ave. to the front of the Capitol building along Osmeña Blvd.

He said they initially thought there was no problem regarding the installation of the bus station near the Capitol because Cebu City’s Cultural and Heritage Affairs Office did not alert them when they presented the plan in 2020.

He said the only condition given to them was not to destroy structures with historical value.

He said the bus station in question is 120 meters from the Capitol building, so they never thought they could have a violation, he added.

SunStar Cebu tried to contact Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia, head of the Cultural and Heritage Affairs Commission, to verify the information, but was unable to as of press time.

In response to the Feb. 27, 2024 cease and desist order issued by Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, Imbong said they had already asked the Philippine Historical Commission for clearance to continue with the project.

Despite the rift between Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and Governor Garcia over the CBRT project, Imbong assured that they would continue with civil works.

He said when they received the notice for the stoppage of construction on Province-owned lots on Osmeña Blvd. amid its potential violation of the Philippine Heritage Law for appearing to be located within the buffer zones of heritage zones, they simply transferred and worked on the bus station near the CSBT.

He said the bus station near the CSBT is almost done, saying they have already installed the roofing.

Meanwhile, Imbong said they respect the governor’s order, adding that it was valid because they were not able to secure a clearance. He said higher officials advised them to secure the necessary permits.

He hopes to have them as soon as possible, he said.

The CBRT project has been marred by several delays since its targeted implementation in 2016.

The groundbreaking of Package 1, which the Cebu City Government had set for Feb. 2, 2023, was moved to Feb. 24 because President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was only available on the latter date.

The original target completion date of Package 1 was in the last quarter of 2023 only to be moved to the first quarter of 2024.

The Department of Transportation initially aimed to complete the CBRT project in 2025 but moved it to 2027 due to design changes.

These changes include the addition of Package 4 that will feature a dedicated lane from Bulacao to Mambaling; extension of the alignment from Ayala to Cebu IT Park; a rotunda underneath the Mambaling flyover; and the conversion of a mixed traffic lane along the coastal road at the South Road Properties and F. Vestil St.

The CBRT project is one of the top priorities of the Marcos Jr. administration with a budget allocation of P28.78 billion. / AML

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