THE World Bank (WB) is looking to further extend the expiration date for the financing package supporting Cebu City’s bus rapid transit (Cebu BRT) project, to allow time for the submission of a proposal to restructure the facility.
“It is proposed to extend the closing date by three months from June 30, 2023 to Sept. 30, 2023, to allow time for the government to submit a request for restructuring of the project with necessary changes,” the World Bank said in a document uploaded on its website.
“Upon receiving such request, the project could be duly restructured to facilitate completion of activities under the current scope/design agreed during the mid-term review and thereby satisfactorily achieve the project development objective,” it added.
The $228.5-million Cebu BRT project was approved on Sept. 26, 2014. Its closing date was originally set on June 30, 2021, before being granted a two-year extension.
The facility consists of $116 million from the World Bank Group unit International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), $25 million from the Clean Technology Fund (CTF), and 50.89 million euros from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD). The Philippine government will supply $30 million in counterpart financing.
The World Bank said that $23.9 million or about 17% of the $141-million total loan commitment from IBRD and CTF has been disbursed.
The bank said that the current progress on the project’s development objective is “moderately unsatisfactory.”
The project aims to “improve the overall performance of the urban passenger transport system in the project corridor in Cebu City in terms of the quality and level of service, safety, and environmental efficiency.”
Implementation progress was also rated as “moderately satisfactory.”
“During the latest mission in November 2022, a notable improvement was observed in the performance of the project under the new administration which assumed office in July 2022,” it said.
However, the bank also noted that a “substantial” portion of the project activities may not be completed by the closing dates.
“The World Bank and AFD informed the government that a request for second extension could be considered for completion of the activities as per the current scope/design as agreed during and since the mid-term review (MTR),” it said.
“In view of this, many components/activities also now need to be jointly financed and hence, corresponding changes are required in the percentage of financing by the respective development partners,” the World Bank said.
The Department of Transportation and Department of Finance have said they are working on requesting for an extension of the loan validity to Dec. 31, 2025.
The restructuring will be subject to the review and approval of the National Economic and Development Authority’s Investment Coordination Committee.
In February, the government broke ground on the first package of the project.
These include the construction of a 2.38-kilometer segregated bus lane with four bus stations, as well as the construction of a 1.15-kilometer pedestrian walkway.
The first package of the project was awarded to the Chinese contractor Hunan Road and Bridge Construction Group Co. Ltd. in November, worth almost P1 billion.
The project consists of three packages and is expected to be fully operational by the second quarter of 2025.
It can accommodate 83 12-meter buses by its opening year and service about 160,000 passengers a day. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson