By Antonio Colina
DAVAO CITY – The City Council of Davao is set to approve on third and final reading the proposed budget worth P100 million for the implementation of the first phase of the High Priority Bus System (HPBS) to address traffic congestion and improve the mass public transport system here.
Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang, chairman of the Committee on Finance, Ways and Means, and Appropriations of 19th City Council of Davao, said in an interview that no concerns were raised in the previous deliberation during a regular session last August 13 concerning the approval of the huge budget intended for the HPBS.
“This will be used by the City Mayor’s Office, through the City Planning (and Development Office) to mitigate the traffic problem of the city,” he said.
He added Mayor Sara Duterte was determined to implement the bus system, even if it means sourcing the budget from the city’s own funds, as the traffic situation here is getting worse.
Last year, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) committed $70 million, or P3.644 billion, as its loan counterpart funding for the Davao Public Transport Modernization Project (DTMP), which is designed to improve public transport infrastructures and services in Davao City.
CPDO head Ivan Cortez said, in a separate interview, that the mayor wanted to get the bus system project started “as soon as possible so we may not be able to wait for ADB.”
“If the ADB can come in, the better,” he said.
The proposed budget will be allotted for the social package for the jeepney drivers and operators who will be affected by the implementation of phase 1 of the bus system, according to him.
Cortez did not disclose the routes covered in phase 1 but hinted there would be routes “going to the north, going to the south and a route, maybe, going to Calinan.”
He added the bus units would be provided by interested bus operators “because we will invite them” to participate in the bus system.
“Ang operators sila naman bahala og unsaon pagpalit sa bus, unsaon pag operate sa bus (We leave it to the operators on how to acquire the bus units, and how to operate them),” he said.
He said the local government will do all it can to get the HPBS started this year.