BAGUIO CITY – Kennon Road will be temporarily opened to motor vehicles owned by residents while on-going rehabilitation projects are being implemented by the public works department.
The temporary opening of the scenic and historic zigzag road was reached by the members of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) during an inter-agency consultative meeting that was called for the purpose Thursday afternoon.
RDRRMC chairman and Cordillera Office of the Civil Defense (OCD-CAR) regional director Albert Mogul said the conduct of the inter-agency consultative meeting was an offshoot of the snowballing clamor from thousands of residents living in barangays of Tuba that are located along the stretch of Kennon Road to solicit their commitment in strictly adhering to the conditions that will be imposed prior to the temporary opening of the roadline to vehicular traffic strictly for the residents only.
Earlier, the Regional Development Council (RDC) and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) also prodded the regional office of the public works department to fastrack the opening of the roadline to light vehicles to help in efforts to decongest the heavy traffic along Marcos highway amidst the opening of a new alternate route, the Tubao-Nangalisan-Baguio road, or at least open the same for the affected residents who have been clamouring for its re-opening due to its serious negative impact to the living condition of people in the barangays along the road.
The RDRRMC authorized Tuba Mayor Ignacio Rivera to issue temporary passage permits to the residents who will be allowed to pass through the said road pending the outcome of the ocular inspection to be conducted by the members on the deployment of sufficient number of police personnel along the road, the installation of appropriate early warning signages and the deployment of sufficient number of emergency vehicles by the concerned barangays in strategic portions of the critical sections of the highway.
Mogul said that the results of the ocular inspection will serve as a basis for him to officially announce that Kennon road will be opened to the motor vehicles of residents living in barangays that are situated along the roadline.
However, Tuba municipal officials led by Mayor Ignacio Rivera, concerned barangay officials, representatives of law enforcement and government agencies will be required by the DPWH-CAR to sign a memorandum of understanding stating their commitments in ensuring that only the motor vehicles of residents living in barangays along the roadline will be allowed temporary access on the said road.
Further, some 10 public utility jeepneys serving the route Baguio to Pozzorubio and Baguio-Rosario via Kennon road will be allowed to pass through the road provided that they will only pick up passengers in the boundary of Benguet and La Union and vice versa to ensure that only the residents are served aside from the fact that even jeepneys serving the Camp 3 route will also be asked to extend their services to Twin Peaks for the benefit of the people in the area.
Local governments are also allowed to submit a list of their motor vehicles used for emergency and disaster response to submit to the RDRRMC for the issuance of the required temporary vehicle pass for the same to be allowed to traverse the roadline during emergency situations.
RDC and RPOC chairman Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan said DPWH-CAR officials have a lot of explaining to do because of the prolonged closure of the road and the supposed lack of conscience of the concerned officials in facilitating the opening of the road considering the need of the people to have easy access to and from their homes.
He explained that the situation of the road was for more worst during previous disasters, particularly when the road was closed to vehicular traffic in 2009 during the wrath of Typhoons Pepeng and Ondoy but contractors were able to easily open the road to motor vehicles.
Tuba Mayor Rivera expressed his gratitude to the consideration provided by the DRRMC in addressing the plight of Kennon road residents for temporary access on the road because it will greatly solve their problems on their tripled transportation expense, their displacement from their work and their having dropped from their studies because of the long route from their houses to their workplaces and schools.
Rivera accompanied concerned barangay officials and officers of jeepney associations whose route was affected by the outright closure of Kennon Road in bringing to the attention of the concerned government agencies the real situation in the barangays along Kennon Road.
He emphasized his constituents along Kennon Road deserve to be given the most humane treatment from concerned government agencies that is why Tuba municipal and barangay officials tried their best to seek all possible assistance that could be extended to them to convince insensitive DPWH-CAR officials to immediately act on their plea to open Kennon road for the motor vehicles of the people living in the roadline.
DPWH-CAR is currently implementing projects particularly the rehabilitation of the Camp 5 bridge that is expected to be completed by middle of February next year, the repair of the Camp 1 bridge and Camp 6 bridge and the concreting of the Klondykes area which were previously identified as critical areas by the concerned government agencies.
The RDRRMC requested the DPWH-CAR to fastrack the completion of the projects before the rainy season to ensure that the road will be safe for the residents when rains will start to pour in the country.
By Dexter A. See
RELIEF – Residents along Kennon Road thanked their head officials and other concerned government agencies for heading their clamor of using the historic road. Photo by Kerby Rillera, 12/23/18