Rama said that while road widening is indeed costly, former mayor and now Rep. Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City’s south district along with former city lawmakers should have pursued it instead of lobbying for funds to finance more flyovers.
The mayor said this amid plans to meet with lot owners in the Banilad-Talamban road in preparation for the road-widening in their area.
“(I’ll ask them to) move back and their payment will come later,” he said.
Rama told reporters that he’s been consistent in his stand against flyovers and that his signature on a June 24 Regional Development Council resolution that approved a five-year investment plan, which includes the two flyovers, was “ministerial.”
He questioned why Osmeña, the council and Rep. Rachel del Mar of Cebu City’s north district pushed for the flyover projects just because there are funds to implement them.
“I cannot understand their logic. If they are serious in addressing traffic congestion, they could have worked on the plans and cost … (why wait for) road widening in the next 10 years? Why didn’t they prioritize road-widening?” he said.
Rama said he wants Cebu City to have wider roads, not more flyovers.
He said he will call President Benigno Aquino III’s chief of staff soon to check on his letter request to drop the planned flyover projects in the city.
“The bottom line is that the president listened. (And) I don’t know why the flyover propo nents are not listening. We don’t need flyovers now. What we need is to address flooding problems, something that they are not prioritizing,” Rama said.
Last Sunday, Osmeña chided Rama for insisting on road widening and crafting a master transportation plan.
He said the widening of Escario Street, which remains unfinished cost P15,000 to P20,000 per sq. meters for lot expropriation alone.
As mayor, Osmeña said it took him five years to convince 8,000 affected residents to move to allow the widening of the national highway along N. Bacalso Avenue and the new Imus Road.
He called on those opposed to the flyovers to be “realistic”. Del Mar also wrote President Aquino and pointed out that Rama himself signed his approval as the new RDC chairman. But Rama clarified that his approval of a 5-year development plan as RDC chairman was only “ministerial.”
“I have listened to the voice of the people in the same manner I was consistent with my views on flyover projects,” he said.
Rama said he is consistent in supporting heritage preservation, which includes preservation of the Asilo dela Milagrosa church.
He said the church would be blocked by the flyover project planned along Gorordo Avenue and Archbishop Reyes Avenue.
Rama said he prioritized drainage, flood control and road repair projects over the flyovers in a previous meeting with Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson.
In line with this, Rama said he asked Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes to work on the planned widening of Hernan Cortes Road in Mandaue, a key access road. Rama said he was confident of securing support especially from Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and Fifth Avenue Development Corp., developer of the P1-billion Cuidad project along Governor Cuenco Avenue on the proposed road set back.
“I don’t see why it is very difficult to implement road widening,” he said. /By Doris C. Bongcac, Chief of Reporters