THE Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) project needs additional funding for right-of-way (ROW) acquisition.
“Since we already have the appraised value I think more than P1 billion may still be needed for the (right-of-way) acquisition,” Benedicto Guia, officer-in-charge program manager of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), said on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024.
Guia appeared during the executive session of the Cebu City Council to apprise its members of the project’s latest development.
He said P460 million has already been downloaded to the City Government, adding that the initial computation for the ROW acquisition was P920 million.
He clarified that the additional budget is on top of the P2 billion which the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) handled for all affected lots along the national road.
He said the request for additional funding is on the way, among other things.
Guia pointed out that they are in regular communication with the City Government.
The council, for its part, asked for the realignment of the program amount so it could start providing just compensation to affected lot owners.
National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) 7 Director Jennifer Bretaña also attended the executive session to answer the questions posed by City Councilor Nestor Archival last Jan. 10.
The local legislator had asked about the final route of the CBRT as well as whether Neda had approved the revised route.
He also wanted to know the total amount (for the project) already deposited in the bank, and the amount of the interest Cebu City is paying.
Bretaña said the change in scope, increase in cost, extension of the implementation period and the validity of the loan, as well as the restructuring of the project were approved by the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC), which is chaired by the secretary of the Department of Finance last Oct. 5.
These were later confirmed by the Neda board on Oct. 13.
Bretaña said the ICC granted the request to restructure the project after it found out that the project was still deemed economically viable, particularly when it came to travel time savings and vehicular operation cost savings.
Regarding the total amount in the bank and the amount of the interest Cebu City is paying, Guia said they did not deposit any amount since they ask the loan grantors to disburse a certain amount when there is work that needs to be paid.
“There is no amount being deposited in the national treasury or in the account of the DOTr,” he said.
Once they are payables, they ask the loan grantors to pay the contractor directly, he said.
The approved cost of the CBRT project has skyrocketed since 2014.
Initially, the project cost was P10.6 billion.
This ballooned to P16.3 billion in 2017 due to a provision of Republic Act 10752 that bases the ROW acquisition on market value and not on zonal value, according to CBRT project manager Norvin Imbong.
In 2023, the project cost reached P28,7 billion due to several changes.
In addition to the P460 million allocated for ROW acquisition, Imbong said there is also P17.5 million for the greenery program.
Meanwhile, Guia also said they have an allocated budget of P400 million for the engineering design consultancy but they are only paying less than P200 million.
He said the consulting services also cover construction supervision.
Since February 2023, Hunan Road and Bridge Construction Group Co. Ltd. has been working on the first package of the CBRT, which is expected to become operational in the first quarter of this year.
Package 1 covers a distance of 2.38 kilometers from the Cebu South Bus Terminal (CSBT) on N. Bacalso Ave. to the front of the Capitol building on Osmeña Blvd.
Package 2 will include routes from the Capitol to the Cebu IT Park in Barangay Lahug and from the CSBT to the South Road Properties (SRP), with a total distance of 10.8 kilometers.
Package 3 will stretch up to 18 kilometers, featuring routes from the Cebu IT Park to Barangay Talamban and from the SRP to Talisay City.
It will also introduce a feeder line system with two feeder terminals and 76 bus stops across Cebu City and Talisay City.
Package 4 will cover a distance of four kilometers, featuring a route from Bulacao to Mambaling in Cebu City.
The four packages of the CBRT project have a total distance of just over 35 kilometers.
The CBRT project aims to serve 60,000 passengers daily in its first year and up to 160,000 passengers once fully operational, as per the DOTr.