Bridge mania in Central Visayas
Many experts have seen the need for mass transport systems but what politicians decided to build are four-lane car bridges:
Cebu-Cordova Link Bridge
Cebu-Bohol Friendship Bridge
Panay-Negros-Guimaras Link Bridge
These inter-Visayas bridges are extremely expensive to build into the not-so-shallow inter-Philippine seas. They are delicate, easily destructible by earthquakes, storms and waves. The build-operate-transfer scheme is questionable because people will think twice in paying toll or travelling by fast craft or RORO car ferries. It will be a long time before investors get a profit.
Forty-six percent of Filipino households have no car, 38 percent have one car, and 16 percent have more than one car. The latter group may enjoy the bridges because for them money is peanuts. The great majority will never use them. These bridges are superfluous, a waste of money and effort that contrasts with the numerous projects that are far more urgent. The bridges are big white elephants.
There are brighter ideas: Cebu Rep. Jonas Cortes has proposed a fourth link, a dual-mode bridge from Consolacion to Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) which will have six lanes, two of which will be for a train system.
Traffic congestion will go on and get worse without railroads. More cars and more jeepneys bringing thousands of workers to Mactan’s factories will congest car bridges.
But what really would take out the heavy and light long-distance traffic off the cities is a superhighway in Cebu’s interior snaking through the mountain passes with bridges and tunnels. This is an opportunity to build rainwater-retaining dams for irrigation, drinking-water supply and power generation.
Not feasible? Train tracks and auto routes go from Italy over the much higher Alps to the central European countries. Building takes time but it is feasible and financeable. There is only a lack of vision and political will.
ERICH WANNEMACHER, German expat Lapu-Lapu City
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