MABALACAT -- The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) hailed the Municipal Council’s proposed ordinance banning grass burning along the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) and the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx).

Robert Gervacio, BCDA spokesperson for the SCTEx, said it is about time that the indiscriminate burning of grass and other farming practices “that place the motoring public in grave danger” is appropriately addressed by the authorities.

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Mabalacat Vice Mayor Prospero Lagman said the measure was immediately referred to the Committee on Public Safety and the Committee on Health, Sanitation and Environmental Protection to enable its quick passage.

“The BCDA fully supports the passage by the municipal council here of an ordinance prohibiting grass burning, which brings about thick smoke that imperils travel along the expressways,” Gervacio said.

The BCDA also called on other local government units affected by the 94-kilometer SCTEx passage – from the Subic Freeport to Tarlac City – to enact similar ordinances that will ensure safe and convenient travel of motorists along the toll road.

On December 28, 2009, a multiple vehicle smashup on the Barangay Tabun portion of the SCTEx here left four people dead and several others injured.

Investigators said the accident was caused by thick smoke, emanating from a grass fire set off by local residents along the toll way.

The smoke resulted in zero visibility on the affected portion of the SCTEx.

Subic-Clark Alliance for Development Council (Scad-C) chair Edgardo Pamintuan has also expressed serious concern about the deadly smoke that often covers road networks as a result of indiscriminate grass burning.

Recently, the municipal government here responded to a request from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and turned over several sets of streetlights to the SCTEx management.

Mabalacat municipal administrator Rosano Pacquia said the streetlights were already installed under the SCTEx bridges in Barangays Dolores and Mabiga.