Removal of 2 skywalks resumes

CEBU. The demolition of the skywalk near Fuenta Osmeña Circle on Osmeña Blvd. in Cebu City started Wednesday, February 14, 2024.
CEBU. The demolition of the skywalk near Fuenta Osmeña Circle on Osmeña Blvd. in Cebu City started Wednesday, February 14, 2024.Photo by Amper Osmeña

THE demolition of the two skywalks along Osmeña Blvd. in Cebu City to make way for the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) project proceeded on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, more than two months after this was postponed to discuss further the safety measures needed to protect commuters and pedestrians.

Norvin Imbong, CBRT project manager, made the confirmation in a text message on Tuesday. He said the Cebu City Government had given the green light to take down the two structures.

He said it will be undertaken by the Chinese contractor Hunan Road and Bridge Construction Group Ltd.

The demolition was initially scheduled to officially begin last Dec. 8, but a day ahead of this, workers were already seen removing the railings and flooring of the skywalk near the Cebu Normal University (CNU) and Abellana National School. Later on Dec. 7, the Cebu City Government decided to postpone the demolition until further notice.

In a phone interview on Wednesday, Feb. 14, Cebu City Councilor Jerry Guardo, chairman of the committee on infrastructure, said the directive was to remove and transfer, and not a total demolition.

Guardo said parts of the structure like the slab and roofing can still be saved, but the stairs will have to go.

Pedestrian crossings

“Kana man gud naa pa man guy area na pwede pa nato ma recycle, magamit pa ba like ang roofing (There are parts that can still be recycled and used like the roofing). That can be used pa. Then ang slab is pwede pa magamit (the slab can also be reused),” he said.

He said he communicated with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on what would happen next, and was told a pedestrian crossing would be provided where the two skywalks once stood.

He said these are already incorporated into the CBRT design.

He said they are still looking for a workable area where the slab and roofings may be stored in the meantime, adding that the Commission on Audit will be conducting an audit.

He also said the removal will take at least two weeks for each skywalk.

“We just have to be careful lang gud sa pagtangtang niya (when we take down the structures). Mao nang naa na gyuy mga consultant gi-hire ana for the safety lang sa atong removal unya pagtransport sa mga debris (That’s why a consultant was hired to ensure safety during the removal and transport of the debris),” Guardo said.

He said they have to coordinate with the Cebu City Transportation Office if there is a need to close the affected portion of Osmeña Blvd. while clearing operations are ongoing.

One of the skywalks is located in front of CNU, while the other is in front of the Department of Health 7 office.

The DOTr, particularly the CBRT Project Management Office, recommended the demolition of the two structures.

Background

CBRT managers cited four reasons why they wanted the skywalks removed, namely the additional cost of redesigning and the toll on time for project completion; obstruction of the sidewalk by skywalk stairs, thus impeding pedestrians’ access; two columns at the skywalks’ middle, obstructing the lanes the buses will traverse; and the skywalk’s height, “conflicting” with the bus station’s height.

However, the demolition has been delayed for months due to the question of ownership.

The Department of Public Works and Highways, 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 last November.

Cebu City 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 costs.

The two skywalks that were built 30 years ago were estimated to have cost P9 million.

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