It would be the economy that becomes the first casualty if the traffic congestion continues to worsen in Metro Cebu, warned engineer Fortunato Sanchez Jr., chairman of the subcommittee on infrastructures and utilities of the Metro Cebu Development and Coordinating Board (MCDCB).
“If the traffic problem further worsens and we don’t have a master plan to address it, it would deliver a big blow to Cebu’s economy,” said Sanchez during his briefing on a proposed feasibility study of an Integrated Road Network Master Plan at the first quarterly meeting of the MCDCB in Compostela town last Wednesday.
The board approved the proposal, which has an estimated cost of P150 million and covering 13 local government units (LGUs).
During the meeting, MCDCB was informed that House Bill 6227, creating a Mega Cebu Development Authority, got the green light from the committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization in the House of the Representatives last Jan. 27.
In line with his policy of participative governance, Gov. Hilario Davide III, who is the chairman of the board, wrote to the Lower House on Dec. 11 last year expressing full support for its immediate passage.
The letter was the governor’s response to the request of the committee, which sought his comment on the said bill.
Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, who visited Cebu last week, said he is willing to sponsor the Senate version of the bill creating the MCDA.
Earlier in the meeting, Sanchez asked the Department of Public Works and Highways 7(DPWH-7) to divert its P150 million allocation for a feasibility study on a bypass road from Naga City to Talisay City to the one proposed by MCDCB covering 13 LGUs.
DPWH Regional Director Ador Canlas said he fully supports Sanchez’s proposal but would still need to go over the details since the components of the feasibility study of the MCDCB might be affected by the passage of the new right-of-way law.
The feasibility study proposal of the DPWH 7 for the Naga-Talisay bypass road is listed in its 2017 proposed projects endorsed to the Provincial Development Council last March 2.
In his presentation, Sanchez demonstrated how an excellent and well-thought out master plan for urban development, if implemented to the letter, could spur economic growth.
Citing Iloilo City as model, Sanchez pointed out that its impressive integrated road network and urban development planning have brought about economic progress and substantial increase of funding from the national government and foreign donors.
In 2011, Iloilo’s allocation was only P1.6 billion but was increased to P6.1 billion in 2015 by the national government, said Sanchez, adding that in the city there is no traffic congestion.
Sanchez gave a laundry list of action plans adopted by Iloilo in preparation for traffic problems that the city may face in the future.
Among these are conversion of provincial freeways to national roads for bigger funding, increase of the number of widening projects and designing efficient intersections to name a few.
As its contribution to Cebu’s development, the provincial government has invested in various infrastructure projects including road opening, road concreting, pavement and asphalting on provincial beltways connecting to major national roads leading to the different cities and municipalities all over Cebu.