Solon wants Cebu LRT among PPPs

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HOUSE Assistant Majority Leader and Cebu City Representative Gerald Anthony Gullas, Jr. is batting for the inclusion of the proposed Cebu Light Rail Transit (LRT) System in the national government’s list of high-priority public-private partnership (PPP) projects.

 

“We are hopeful that the proposed Cebu LRT network will eventually be included in the lineup of urgent PPP ventures,” Mr. Gullas was quoted saying in a statement released yesterday.

Mr. Gullas filed House Bill (HB) 1338, a proposed law to establish and fund the Cebu LRT in Metro Cebu.

According to the statement, the LRT line would run between the cities of Talisay and Mandaue. New railways would also connect Talisay to Dalaguete town in the south and Mandaue to Sogod town in the north.

“An LRT line is the only way Metro Cebu can cope with future demand for a fast, safe and reliable public transport system,” the statement read.

The release cited a study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which reported that Metro Cebu’s population alone is expected to double from 2.5 million to five million by 2050.

“Owing to rapid population growth, we will find it increasingly difficult to move people around a highly congested Metro Cebu in the years ahead,” Mr. Gullas said in the statement.

He also said that since most of the roads in Cebu can no longer be widened, “the options left are for us to either build new road tunnels underground, or to put up an overhead LRT line.”

Joselito Herrera, Mr. Gullas’s public relations consultant, explained in an e-mail: “Years ago, the DoTC forged a $1-billion build-operate-transfer agreement with the AMA Group Holdings Corp. to build a 71-kilometer, three-phased LRT project in Metro Cebu.”

“As planned then, the project would run through Metro Cebu from the Municipality of Carcar (now a city) in the south to Danao City in the north. However, the project was eventually dropped after the DoTC found it difficult to get lower offers from other private entities,” Mr. Herrera said.

Asked for comment, Alma Mae A. Agne of the PPP Center’s knowledge management division said in a separate e-mail: “The only light rail project being undertaken by the government is the LRT Line-1 Cavite Extension. What we currently have in the pipeline are priority projects that have been identified by our implementing agencies, in this case the DoTC.”

“They might have something in mind for Cebu, but at this point they have not indicated what exactly these PPP projects are. What is clear for now is the ongoing Mactan-Cebu International Airport project,” Ms. Agne said, referring to the P17.5-billion PPP for the airport’s rehabilitation and expansion.

“As to the House bill filed at the lower House for a Cebu Light Rail Transport System, we will coordinate with our colleagues here at the PPP Center and find out more details about it,” she said. -- I.C.C. Delavin (Business World)