French PM to visit Cebu, hear BRT reform plans

Posted on October 19, 2012

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The French prime minister will visit Cebu on Sunday for a day trip during which he will get to ride a jeepney and be briefed on the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.

Prime Minister Jean Marc Ayrault, his wife Brigitte, Foreign Trade Minister Nicole Briqc, and Foreign Affiars Minister Helen Conway will attend the inauguration of the Aliance Francaise de Cebu office in Gorordo Avenue at noon, said Louis Thevenin, director of the Alliance Francaise.

Cebu City Rep. Tomas Osmeña said he appreciated the French officials’ interest to possibly finance the proposed BRT.

“It’s nice that the French government is responding. This is the first time that they are making an offer to the city. I want to establish that connection,” said Osmeña.

He said the French government through the French Development Agency expressed interest in extending counterpart funding for the $211 million BRT.

“They can work side by side with World Bank,” he told Cebu Daily News.

A briefing is scheduled at the Capitol before noon.

Last Wednesday, the Cebu City Council passed a resolution imposing a moratorium on development along the the 16-kilometer BRT route from barangay Bulacao in the south to the Ayala Business Park in the north district.

A moratorium would mean no new development projects will be allowed along N. Bacalso Avenue, Osmeña Boulevard from the junction of P. del Rosario Street to the Cebu Provincial Capitol, Escario Street, Ayala Business Park and Archbishop Reyes Avenue up to the TEDSA intersection.

Councilor Ritchie Osmeña said the moratorium is needed “in order not to hamper the implementation of the construction works related to the BRT project and to effectively facilitate the road right of way acquisition connected therewith.”

FRENCH VISIT

The French prime minister will arrive at 10 a.m. on Sunday at the Mactan airport where he will be met by Gov. Gwen Garcia, Lapu-Lapu-Lapu city Mayor Paz Radaza, Michel Lhuillier, the honorary consul of France in Cebu and Thevenin.

From the airport, they will visit the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño and then the Fuente Osmeña Circle, where the prime minister and his companions will take a jeepney to the Capitol with Governor Garcia.

At the Capitol, they will be briefed on Cebu City’s BRT system for restructuring urban transportation.

At noon, the party will attend the inauguration of the Alliance Francaise de Cebu. They leave Cebu in the afternon after a visit to the the Lapu-Lapu Shrine.

Construction of the BRT will start in late 2013 and if all targets are met, operations will start in the fourth quarter of 2015, said Raffy Yap, executive director of the BRT Technical Working Group.

A BRT feasibility study is still being completed.

Last Aug. 29, the Cebu City Council approved the final draft. Work on the detailed project design will start on November or December and is expected to be complete in the second half of 2013.

The detailed project design will include road network, stops and intervals of the BRT system and the engineering design of the buses.

If agreements are reached, Congressman Osmeña said the World Bank and the French government would co-finance the BRT project.

“There is also interest from SM to participate in the BRT because they wanted to include the SRP where they are investing millions. These are things which we have been working on for years,” Osmeña told CDN. /Doris C. Bongcac, Chief of Reporters

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