Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said he worried that the World Bank and other funding institutions may start having “reservations” about financing a Bu Rapid Transit system for Cebu City after President Benigno Aquino III deferred action on it.
Rama said the bus proposal has to push through next year as planned to avoid the risk of cooling the interest of potential loan sources.
President Banigno Aquino III announced to Liberal Party allies last Friday in Cebu City that the Neda Board deferred approval of the BRT project estimated to cost P10 billion.
He said the Neda Board needs to conduct further studies on it and that he was not keen on letting the government “experiment” on such a costly project.
Mayor Rama said the President’s remarks would defintiely affect the project’s chances of funding.
“I am worried about the reservations this will bring, not only affecting but cause discomfort, disenchantment,” Rama told reporters.
Although the BRT is a pet project of his political rival Rep. Tomas Osmeña, who is running for mayor next year, Rama supports the mass transit proposal, which would replace some jeepney routes with dedicated bus lanes and stations down Osmeña Boulevard up to Talamban.
Rama said he will ask Citom office head Rafael Yap, who is also with the Cebu City BRT Technical Working Group, to check on the actual reason for the deferment of Neda Board action.
“I want Atty. Yap to fight it out,” he said.
“I’m letting Mr. Yap to take the initiative and I hope to be briefed so I can take the next step either at the RDC level or on another level,” he said.
He said Cebu City needs the proposed BRT more than flyovers.
Rama recalled an incident two years ago when he and Aquino attended the opening of the Radisson Blu Hotel. The president called his attention to traffic congestion along S. Osmeña Road beside the hotel.
He told the president that congestion may be addressed by having a tunnel built in the area, road widening, having a comprehensive traffic system, installation of CCTVs and adopting the BRT. The president suggested that Cebu City needs a Light Rail Transit but the mayor disagreed.
“I can’t imagine having LRT along Osmeña Boulevard to the Capitol, Escario Street, Mango Avenue, and Colon. I would not be able to see the sky and I was very clear about that (to the president) two years ago,” said Rama. /Doris C. Bongcac, Chief of Reporters