Posted on 10:39 PM, June 10, 2010 [ BusinessWorld Online ]
CEBU CITY -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday inaugurated the first underground tunnel in Cebu.
The four-lane tunnel stretches about 600 meters from the viaduct connecting the South Road Properties to downtown Cebu City and passes underneath the Plaza Independencia.
Estimated to cost P1.6 billion, the tunnel forms part of the Cebu south coastal road which provides a direct and faster link from the southern part of Cebu to the old central business district of the city.
The entire road project was financed by a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Public Works Undersecretary Rafael C. Yabut said the tunnel is 98% complete. The facility is expected to be fully operational in August this year.
He said the tunnel will be open to motorists for a limited period, from 6-9 a.m and 4-7 p.m., to allow cabling and other finishing works.
The President received both criticism and praises from Cebuanos yesterday after she inaugurated the tunnel.
Boost to development
Vice-Mayor Michael L. Rama, incoming city mayor, thanked the President for the project, adding that the facility will boost Cebu’s economic development.
"This [inauguration] is a very historic activity, a milestone, a breakthrough in this island. It will bring connectivity with clarity from the south to the north. This can change the landscape of our economy," Mr. Rama said in his speech.
Delivery man Dino Carale attested that his travel time from Talisay City in the south to Cebu City is cut by about one hour through the south coastal road.
Aside from the tunnel, other components of the south coastal road are a viaduct and the land-based section from Talisay City passing through the South Road Properties.
Mrs. Arroyo, for her part, said it will be self-serving for her to relate the benefits of the project and instead praised the engineers, consultants, masons and construction workers who built the tunnel.
On the other hand, Arman Perez, secretary-general of the militant Bayan Muna party-list group in Central Visayas, described the inauguration as a venue for the President to earn "pogi" (plus) points.
Meanwhile, Japanese consul Makuto Katsura assured that the Japanese government will continue to support the Philippines through laudable projects.
The President also inaugurated yesterday a P15-million two-storey schoolbuilding of the nearby Zapatera elementary school which was funded under the city’s special education fund. -- Antonio Antogop, Jr.