BAGUIO CITY – The current designs of various road projects in the Cordillera will be assessed, evaluated and reviewed by the Cordillera office of the Department of Public works and Highways (DPWH-CAR) to ensure that the implementation of future major infrastructure projects will result to better and safer roads regionwide, an official of the DPWH-CAR said here Thursday.
DPWH-CAR Regional Director Engr. Tiburcio L. Canlas, during a press briefing, disclosed that technical personnel of the office already got in touch with the officials of the agency’s Bureau of Design to ascertain the appropriate design of road projects in the region to prevent the occurrence of landslides and road cuts that impede the smooth transport of agricultural crops to the lowland and Metro Manila markets and ensure the safety of motorists traveling inside and outside the region.
“We need to make the proper adjustments in the current designs of our roads and bridges to make sure that all roads leading to the region will be all-weather roads in the future to prevent the unnecessary isolation of communities during the onslaught of monsoon rains and tryphoons,” Canlas stressed.
He claimed that during the recent wrath of Tropical Cyclone Ompong over Northern Luzon, including the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) last week, numerous roads leading to the different parts of the region were closed to vehicular traffic for a few days because of the presence of numerous landslides and washed portions of roads that caused the isolation of a number of villages and prevented the safe travel of motorists inside and outside the region.
According to him, DPWH personnel from the different district engineering offices in the region and concerned private contractors had a difficult time working round the clock just to make sure that landslides will be immediately cleared while road cuts will be remedied to ensure that motorists will be able to travel inside and outside the region amidst the bad weather condition that prevailed.
Reliable DPWH technical personnel revealed the construction of roads in the lowlands is much different and cheaper compared to the building of roads in what had been described as mountain highways. A kilometer paved road in the lowlands cost over P10 million while a kilometer road of road in the highlands cost between P20 to P25 million because of the need to include provisions for appropriate drainage systems and slope protection walls to prevent unnecessary landslide and washed out incidents as what had transpired.
Canlas underscored that by improving the designs of road and stonewall projects in the different national roads around the region, the occurrence of landslides and washed outs that pose a serious threat to life and limb will be significantly reduced and all major roads will be open to traffic even at the height of monsoon rains and typhoons.
He added that while it is true that there might be an added cost to the projects once there will be revisions to the designs, the government has to continue investing on better and safer roads because what matters is the greater interest of the majority of the populace around the region.
Canlas emphasized that once that the Bureau of Designs will be able to come out with the suitable design for road projects in the region, the matter will be subjected to consultations with the concerned stakeholders before it will be fully implemented since one of the objectives of the agency is to have safer and better roads for the people.
Canlas explained there might have been defects in the existing design of road projects in the region which have to be addressed, thus, the need for the agency to continuously dialogue with affected stakeholders to get their sentiments on the issue although the purpose of re-designing the Cordillera roads is to prevent the frequent occurrence of landslides and washed outs that affect mobility of people and agricultural crops inside and outside the region.
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, who chairs the Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) and Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC-CAR) expressed support to the initiative of Director Canlas, saying that it is high time for the DPWH to look into better designs that will guarantee the unnecessary closure of roads to vehicular traffic and still ensure smooth and safe travel in the region even during the height of natural calamities.
He disclosed that the region had been frequently isolated even with a slight downpour that makes people doubt in the quality of the major infrastructure projects being implemented by contractors, thus, the need for a dedicated DPWH official to pursue the implantation of the needed reforms in the agency to rid poor performing contractors from being involved in the prosecution of government projects.
Domogan emphasized DPWH officials should remember that Benguet and some parts of Mountain Province and Ifugao are the major producers of the country’s supply of agricultural crops, thus, the frequent closure of roadlines result to the artificial shortage of crops that cause the skyrocketing of prices and affects the consumers in the different parts of the country whereby roads liking the region must always be open to traffic for the stability of supply and better quality crops sold in the market.
By Dexter A. See