Good roads-A A +A
Friday, September 7, 2012
The only thing that really bothered me was the boring five-hour too long travel from Bacolod to Sipalay—a distance of 178.4 kilometers. I went there last Tuesday for a meeting with CENRO-Sipalay’s Arvi Fernándo and two people’s organizations on the National Greening Program for Hinobaan.
Otherwise, I’m impressed with the road network, largely cemented, infrastructure. Last time I took the same highway was in the 1980s. I had to contend with the dust and the long ride on the graded road.
Even Sipalay no longer had a one-hoss frontier town look. Its public market looks cleaner and more modern than any of Bacolod’s public markets.
My non-government work provided me with the opportunity to travel off-beaten tracks. I took for granted our roads until I experienced dusty, bumpy roads.
Compared to Palawan and many parts in Mindanao, our Negrense roads make national highways of other provinces look like survival trails.
Of course, I experienced those days when our roads look like survival trails. In Salvador Benedicto, the roads were so muddy that vehicles had to use tire chains to control them. One time we even had to slosh through knee-deep mud in Marcelo, Calatrava to pull a jeepney to no avail. Eventually, it took a de karga to pull the jeepney out of the mud.
Few people know how important our good road infrastructure is to development.
Public investments on highway projects are based on the assumption that they spur positive economic impacts. In largely rural areas, road networks are used to bring government services to distressed areas, including remote mountain localities.
EuropeAid insists that good quality infrastructure is a key ingredient for sustainable development. All countries need efficient transport, sanitation, energy and communications systems if they are to prosper and provide a decent standard of living for their populations. Unfortunately, many developing countries possess poor infrastructure, which hampers their growth and ability to trade in the global economy.
Good roads are one thing, but interconnectivity is another thing. Surprisingly, Cenro-Sipalay has no landline telephone. I had to get in touch with Cenro Arvi by texts (thank God for cellphones).
It used to be difficult to get in touch with these faraway towns. The main source of communication back then was to use our public transport as the informal post office. I remember using these improvised systems during our community forestry days in Marcelo, Calatrava and Bagong Silang in Salvador Benedicto to deliver documents to field staff.
Another is the spotty linkage with the cyber highway. It would have been easier to do so many things on real time by avoiding long travel time if our government offices have reliable Wifi connections.
If the Negros Occidental economy has to fly, it has to develop these virtual and real highways. It has to strengthen rural and urban commerce by making it to easy to deliver goods. Last year, I went to a “remote barangay” Lalong in Calatrava.
With the advent of electricity, the barangay has computers and printers. The barangay has arrived in the 1990s.
Now that we’re in the 2012, can we expect these far-flung areas to have access to additional infrastructure such as the internet? Ambitious? Should be. Impossible?
Just ask Nepal’s Mahabir Pun who received the 2007 Ramón Magsaysay Award for his innovative application of wireless internet technology to connect his remote village in Nepal to the global connected village. The unreachable star proved to be on reach. Why not in Negros?
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 07, 2012.