Editorial: Keep safe CBRT sites

Editorial: Keep safe CBRT sites
Editorial Cartoon by John Montecillo

The rainy season is officially back, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) last May 24.

The onset last May 29 of “significant rainfall, frequent thunderstorms, and the southwest monsoon” forearms citizens to prepare umbrella, inclement weather gear, and extra patience for commuting in the country.

In Cebu City, it is going to be more than the usual business.

As work on the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) Project proceeds at a glacial, uncertain pace, key parts of the metro pose daunting, even life-threatening, risks for commuters and pedestrians.

In the heavy downpour that started in the afternoon and continued till the evening last June 20, motorists sought to avoid heavy flooding and traffic congestion at the two older Mandaue-Mactan bridges by going for the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX).

To reach the third Cebu-Mactan bridge at the South Road Properties (SRP), a person in uptown Cebu traveled along N. Bacalso Avenue. At the stretch passing Elizabeth Mall and the South Bus Terminal (SBT), the unlit working area of the CBRT was even darker and more disorienting in the unrelenting rain.

CBRT workers could only be distinguished by their movements when they were silhouetted by the light from vehicles.

The rail workers’ safety was made more precarious by the surface depressions and construction implements that also posed hazards to pedestrians crossing the avenue and the unrelenting flow of vehicles.

There is a noticeable absence of early warning devices or barriers that are precautionary necessities to avoid traffic accidents in the CBRT construction sites that are located in the center of Cebu’s major thoroughfares.

Rain complicates the already complicated scenario affecting Metro Cebu residents living with the CBRT Project.

Ironically promoted as the solution to Cebu’s current and future mass transit needs, the CBRT has so far only compounded the original problem.

The major thoroughfares of Cebu have always been narrow compared to those in Metro Manila.

Reducing the portion of the road that may be accessible to non-CBRT vehicles while dragging the completion of the mass transit system piles insult and injury on private and public commuters.

One positive development is that Cebu City Acting Mayor Raymond Garcia has informed the CBRT project management to remove the lamp posts installed in the middle of Osmeña Boulevard, according to a SunStar Cebu report on June 20 by Jerra Mae Librea and Arkeen Larisma.

On social media, netizens posted photos and complaints about the hazards the lamp posts presented to the public as these jutted out in the heavy flow of Osmeña Boulevard traffic.

In the CBRT master plan, the installation of streetlights is the initial phase of the link to the port pedestrianization project, which covers 1.15 kilometers from P. del Rosario Street to Plaza Independencia.

The intention is to improve the public’s access to the CBRT.

However, Cebu City Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera has pointed out that the pedestrianization plan may affect already constructed arcaded sidewalks in some parts of Colon St., reported Larisma on June 15 in SunStar Cebu.

These arcaded sidewalks are intended to shield pedestrians from weather extremes, especially vulnerable ones like women with children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.

Remaining unfinished, the arcaded sidewalks, with permanent awnings reminiscent of gigantic leaves or fans, protrude with little functional value for now in the center of Cebu City’s thoroughfares.

In searing sun or driving rain, the incomplete structures of the CBRT only remind the public that, more than anything, they must hold on longer to their patience in this protracted struggle to solve Cebu’s mass transit needs.

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