Ciudad stays blocked: City

05/19/10 - CAPITOL officials will meet with proponents of the stalled Ciudad project in Banilad, to discuss their plans now that a new administration will take over Cebu City Hall on June 30.

Capitol spokesman Rory Jon Sepulveda said the Province wants to know the status of their joint venture partner’s application for a locational clearance and what they intend to do about it once Vice Mayor Michael Rama takes over as mayor.

If Ciudad, a P1.2-billion multi-use facility, pushes through, Sepulveda said that will mean an optimal use of the Province-owned property.

Rama, who is abroad, declined to comment. But Mayor Tomas OsmeƱa said the ban on constructions in that area will remain in place, because of the traffic.

“It’s all a matter of record. There’s a ban,” he said. “I don’t think that project can be implemented. The traffic is really bad in that area.”

Until a mass transport system that will help decongest the Banilad-Talamban corridor is in place, the Cebu City Development Planning and Development Office (CPDO) will not recommend to lift the moratorium on new development projects there.

CPDO Chief Paul Villarete said based on their technical recommendation, the Province’s stalled development project, Ciudad, and other new construction projects should not be issued development permits.

“There is still a moratorium because of the traffic congestion and the rapid urban growth in the area and even if their investors will talk 1,000 times about their plans, that will not change... Why, are projects going to be decided by good relations?” he said.

Ciudad has been stalled since 2007, when the City Government suspended all development permits for the Banilad-Talamban area, citing heavy traffic.

Mayor-elect Rama reserved his official comment until he assumes office.

“I’m still on vacation. My term starts at noon of June 30. I hope you understand,” he said in a text message.

Interviewed separately, Sepulveda said the Capitol is hoping the Ciudad project can take off, as it will promote economic activity.

The Ciudad project is supposed to host several establishments that will complement the adjacent IT Park and the Cebu Country club right across the property.

“It will be an added area in the city for economic activity,” Sepulveda said.

Change?

However, he admitted the Capitol is not optimistic the change in leadership will mean the project will finally get its locational clearance and permits.

“Ninety percent of what we are saying, somebody is going to shoot this down again. But because it’s (Ciudad) being asked (by media), then we have to answer the question,” Sepulveda said.

“We don’t want to politicize this project, much as some would like it to be done,” he added.

While he does not have anything to do with politics, Villarete said it is his job to give technical recommendations to the mayor regarding planning and development.

He said, though, that it is up to Rama whether he will follow the recommendations.

Even before the Ciudad project was announced, he said, he already advised the mayor to rezone the Banilad-Talamban corridor because of the large number of locational clearances and development permits being issued for projects in the area.

“So it has nothing to do with Ciudad. It has to do with the rapid urban growth in the area. As far as I am concerned, nothing has changed. My technical recommendation is that unless a mass transport system, the Bus Rapid Transit, is there, the City should not lift the moratorium,” Villarete added.

Asked whether he and Rama have discussed the Ciudad project lately, the mayor said: “No comment.” (SunStar) 

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