Cebu Flyovers

For the benefit of those who are not aware of what has been happening in Cebu, the construction of two flyovers in Gorordo Avenue and MJ Cuenco last October has been suspended after being met with a strong opposition from various sectors that formed what was initially known as Stop Cebu Flyovers Movement, now recognized as a civil society group called Movement for a Livable Cebu.

The Gorordo and MJ Cuenco flyover project proposal didn’t undergo a public consultation. No technical planning was done until the opposition made noise. The Regional Development Council appointed a Technical Working Group to conduct the study but its Infrastructure Development Committee would later on vote not to endorse the report of TWG. The findings say that the proposed fyovers are not going to solve the traffic congestion. TWG recommends road widening and flared intersections among others.

MLC met with Secretary Rogelio Singson of the Department of Public Works and Highways in Manila to dialogue with him. Singson was not aware of the opposition. He said he would only support projects backed by a comprehensive study. He issued a moratorium.

North District Representative Rachel “Cutie” del Mar—one of the proponents of the “network of flyovers” that was envisioned by his father, former Congressman, now citizen Raul del Mar—and Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama met with President Benigno Aquino last November. Rama is opposing the flyover projects. Former city mayor, now South District Representative, Tomas Osmena accuses Rama of wanting to divert the flyover funds to his own projects. He is concerned that “RDC would look funny if members agree to Rama’s plan to recall its endorsement of the flyover projects.” The president ordered DPWH to conduct a traffic study that should have been completed by the end of December 2011. MLC has not heard back about the said study.

But the representative del Mar—most likely, the citizen del Mar, too—and Osmena are insistent on the construction of the flyovers. And two more flyovers had been proposed for 2013 funding last Friday. The representative del Mar says she will do all she can to decongest traffic. TWG is confident that no technical study could prove that flyovers in Gorordo and in MJ Cuenco would ease the congestion. Even the Cebu City Traffic Office Management rejected the two flyovers.

Urban planners argue that flyovers have no place in the urban core, that massive structures make people become disconnected with the community, encourage more crimes and unfriendly neighborhoods. Advocates are concerned that the flyovers will destroy the cultural heritage and historical value of Gorordo Avenue without solving the problem of congestion. MLC has asserted the need for a comprehensive master plan to avoid arbitrary infrastructures—like the flyovers. It envisions a mass transit system, real sidewalks, bike lanes and wide green public spaces.

The representative del Mar appears quite optimistic that the suspended construction will begin soon. But MLC is fighting. “What explains this relentless pushing for flyovers?” somebody asked. If the proponents recognize that this is not a one step forward, two steps backward move for MLC, then they must be taking the risk to secure the funds. The construction can be delayed, anyway.

In Cebu today, some people sit on their thrones and do as they wish. Some play god; others act as if Cebu were their hacienda.

Please let your friends know.

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