Roxas Blvd face-lift to start with tacky lamppostsBy Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Lampposts are top of mind in yet another scheme to transform Roxas Boulevard into a commercial and tourist attraction.
The Roxas Boulevard Redevelopment Project, spearheaded by the Department of Tourism and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), aims at transforming the 7.6-kilometer thoroughfare by the Manila Bay into a park complex of shops, restaurants and cafes.
“We envision the current Roxas Boulevard service roads to be commercial or shopping roads. We plan to convert them into strips of night cafes,” said Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson.
Singson expressed confidence the creation of a shopping street on the Roxas Boulevard park would broaden the revenue impact of the place.
Let’s start with lampposts
Streetlamps being the default mode of government officials when they want to give any part of a city or town a facelift, the Roxas Boulevard redevelopment will have for its major feature “uniform, standard-designed and China-made” streetlamps, according to Reynaldo Tagudando, the director for the National Capital Region of the DPWH.
Tagudando said the DPWH had already spent P43 million on the initial phase of the lamppost project. This went to the installation of the lampposts on both sides and the median of Roxas Boulevard from the Coastal Mall area near the boulevard’s southern terminus to Russel Street in Parañaque.
To follow soon is the installation of the same type of lampposts along the stretch of the boulevard from Russel Street to Vito Cruz in Pasay City, for which the DPWH has set aside P33 million, Tagudando said.
The installation of the uniformly designed lampposts in the Manila portion of the boulevard—from Vito Cruz to the Intramuros or Walled City—“has yet to be finalized,” he said.
He said the DPWH had yet to sign a memorandum of agreement with the city government of Manila so no budget allocation had been made yet.
“We will make consultations shortly with Mayor Joseph Estrada and the Manila City Engineer’s Office about the project,” Tagudando said.
“We’re confident we’ll forge the MOA with Manila City Hall the earliest possible time,” he said.
Estrada has own plans
A possible complication is that Estrada has his own plans for the existing Roxas Boulevard streetlamps, which he had pronounced as “ugly.”
Estrada, who has announced plans to give the nation’s capital a facelift, said he would start by replacing the Roxas Boulevard streetlamps.
The controversial streetlights, all made in China, were installed by former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza supposedly to deter crime and promote urban development. His successor, Mayor Alfredo Lim, a political ally of President Aquino, continued the project.
“The street was transformed into a carnival … with multicolored lights. It’s embarrassing … That will be changed … It’s ugly,” Estrada said during a recent visit to the Inquirer.
Tagudando did not comment on Estrada’s plans to retire the Roxas Boulevard lampposts.
More than beautification
According to Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., the Roxas Boulevard Redevelopment Project is “not just a beautification project.”
It is also a “business plan aimed at restoring and enhancing Manila as a viable capital for tourism and business,” he said.
It is aimed at transforming portions of the thoroughfare into a commercial strip to spur economic activity and will involve the cleanup of debris from previous redevelopment projects, landscape improvements and planting of endemic plants, Jimenez said.
Aside from the installation of new lampposts, the park redevelopment will also involve the pavement of pedestrian walkways and installation of bike lanes, among other projects, Tagudando said.
The program’s “full budget” is still being finalized, Jimenez told reporters last week.
Singson and Jimenez appealed to the private sector to support the ambitious project to “maximize the business impact along the boulevard.”
The two agencies plan to hold a series of consultations and meetings with concerned local government units to deal with common problems like security, billboards and illegal and ambulant vendors.
Covered by public bidding
Tagudando clarified that the lamppost project is “covered by public biddings.”
“The DPWH handles the procurement of these lampposts while the LGUs’ (local governments’) counterpart will be shouldering the electric bills,” he said.
A DPWH report on the project said “all street luminaire assemblies shall include the poles and foundations that could withstand up to [450-kilometers-per-hour] winds without permanent deformation.”
“In the event that some existing streetlight posts have to be retired and removed, the contractor shall provide the necessary reconnections to make the circuit operational,” it said.
“Electrical works shall be done under the direct supervision of duly registered electrical engineers,” it said.