Editorial: Refrain from rushing Scud project’s Phase 1

The Cebu City South Coastal Urban Development (Scud), a three-phase housing project jointly undertaken by the city and national governments, was very much welcomed as these are for the benefit of informal settler families, including those living near danger zones like the city’s waterways.

The groundbreaking of the Scud project’s first phase took place in Barangay San Nicolas on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023. Phase 1 covers 30 hectares of the 60-hectare development site situated in barangays across the South Road Properties, and 40 buildings for socialized housing will be built for 10,000 informal settler families.

According to the Cebu City Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor, the City is eyeing to complete all the buildings under Phase 1 within this year or by Dec. 31.

It is understood that every government project has a timeline—the starting and completion dates.

As for the Scud project, its groundbreaking was just held last Feb. 27, and now the Cebu City Government wants to complete Phase 1 in just 10 months. This sounds like a rush job.

Finishing a large-scale project in under one year is like punching a thick wall.

Sure, there are modern construction technologies that can get things done in a short period of time; however, this is a housing project that is intended to house human beings, not robots or androids. So, it is better for the government to be cautious.

Australian public policy think tank Grattan Institute has said that “when governments pursue risky infrastructure projects, they must at least set themselves up for success by doing adequate planning and discovery. Failing to do so only leads to expensive mistakes that could have been dealt with far more cheaply at the project’s conception.”

Indeed, the quality of work done is suspect if the infrastructure project is rushed. This can lead to safety issues and may require additional costs to repair or replace the poorly constructed infrastructure. Just think of the rushed Cebu International Convention Center, which was badly affected by the earthquake and Typhoon Yolanda in the last quarter of 2013.

Studies show that an infrastructure project can also have a significant impact on the environment. When it is rushed, the proper environmental impact studies may not be conducted, which can lead to irreversible damage to the surroundings.

Rushing infrastructure projects can also lead to cost overruns (spending more money on a project than what was planned in the budget, or the actual extra amount that is spent), which can put a strain on government budgets. This can lead to reduced funding for other essential services such as healthcare, education and public safety.

It is good for the politicians’ image to get things done in time, and it could increase their electability in the next election cycle.

Grattan Institute said that “governments rush projects for various reasons. Winning votes is certainly one… But governments also rush projects in the pursuit of the image that they ‘get things done,’ and because they cannot tie the hands of future governments. If a government fails to get a pet project started within its term of office, there’s every chance the next government might cancel the project altogether.”

Rushing the Scud project’s Phase 1 can be hazardous.