They say it’s a done deal. I disagree,” said architect and urban planner Joy Onozawa yesterday.
Her sentiment, shared by a mixed group of students, homeowners, NGO workers, ecology advocates, professors and business proprieters kicked off a multi-sectoral movement to demand “No to flyovers” in Cebu City.
The meeting hosted by Permaculture Cebu advocate and hotel owner Joel Lee included atcion plans to invite Rep. Cutie del Mar and the Dept. of Public and Highways to a public consultation to explain why two more flyovers will be built when, according to the group, this is would ruin Cebu City’s hopes to develop a “sustainable and liveable city”.
Meanwhile, another private sector group is pushing for the conduct of a transportation master plan for Cebu City.
The study would cost about P25 million and can be done within one year, said businessman Bunny Pages, member of the Banilad-Talamban (Bantal) Traffic Task Force, which staged opposition to the Bantal flyover in 2007.
He said the group would tap Dr. Primitivo C. Cal, a Cebuano urban planner based in Manila, who was one of the pioneers of the Metro Cebu Land Use and Transport Study (Mcluts) made 33 years ago.
Pages, who attended the coordination meeting at West Gorordo Hotel, said it was foolish to continue building flyovers in Cebu City without a well thought-out plan by experts.
Instead of spending P600 million to rush the construction of two new overpasses for vehicles, he asked why the DPWH can’t use a small portion of that for a master plan first and updating the Mcluts.
The P25 million cost estimate and timeframe was given by Cal, who has a doctorate in transportation planning and worked before with the Dept. of Transportation of Communication. He is an associate of Transport Traffic Planner Inc.
Cal was the same expert who made a preliminary study at the height of opposition to the Bantal flyover in 2007, and warned that the Bantal flyover woud be “90 percent” filled up with vehicles by the time the structure was finished.
Cal at the time recommended alternaties such as flared intersections and road widening.
Pages, who is in touch with the urban planner, said Cal agreed to update the Mcluts data and “complete” the master plan of Cebu City, including providing traffic data, possible alternate roads and other data that would serve as basis for future transport development programs in Cebu city.
“We need govenrment cooperation if the masterplan would push through,” he said.
Pages said he hopes to tap the City Council and other government agencies for funding.
In yesterday’s coordination meeting for a citizens movement, various representatives shared their observation that concrete flyovers just worsen traffic, add to air pollution, and spoiled the beauty of the city.
One female resident from uptown Cebu City said travel time from Fuente Osmena to Banilad in peak traffic was two hours, and had not improved with the Bantal flyover.
Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) Director Rafael Yap said the baseline data for the two proposed flyovers at the junctions of MJ Cuenco and Gorodo Avenue was incomplete and “flawed” based on what the DPWH presented.
Yap said that during the Aug. 26 public forum with the stakeholders and the DPWH-7, only the vehicle count data which passes through the junctions of MJ Cuenco and Gorordo Avenue were presented and not the total picture.
“ Their data is incomplete and we can’t make any conclusions from it,” Yap said.
Architect Onozawa said before an infrastructure project would be implemented, an integrated action plan should be set up by the implementing agency and the stakeholders.
This study would include city profile, consultations, action planning and trial pilot of the project.
“ The two lane flyover over a four lane road is ridiculous,” Onozawa said in the forum.
As an urban planner, Onozawa said that a transportation master plan should be made first to identify the modalities of transportation in Cebu city.
The economic status of the citizens specially those who will be affected by the project should also be considered, following urban design guidelines, possibilities of road widening and assess the pollution status in the environment.
She presented the Sustainable Cities Index, based from a non-government organization called “Forum for the Future, Action for a Sustainable World” which prescribes that an urban design should be the refernece of transportation projects.
“We have to ask what is their (DSWD) reference of urban design in Cebu, which takes into consideration the public domain,” she said.
Onozawa lamented that building flyovers would also lose the sense of connectivity by the people.
“ If we walk under it, we can’t see the trees and the skies,” she said.
Kevin Ray Chua of the Cebu Bloggers Society said that they would also gather signatures of university students to oppose the plan.
“This is not a traffic solution for Cebu city and for the future,” Chua said during the forum.
After the forum, the group converge to come up with an action plan for ways to halt the project.
One of the suggestions raised in the forum is to address the concern over the project to the Office of the President.
They also decided to review the law violated in the implementation of the project and create a coordinating body that would connect all the concenred stakeholders for a sustainable Cebu. /Reporter Candeze R. Mongaya