Malilong: Build, borrow, pay

The Other Side

BUILD, Build, Build is a very ambitious program. The problem is that its cost is enormous and since we do not have the money, funding will have to come from Borrow, Borrow, Borrow, which in turn means Pay, Pay, Pay.

Now I hear that we have another obstacle, at least insofar as the two bridges connecting Cebu and Bohol and Cebu and Negros are concerned: Do Not Know, Do Not Know, Do Not Know.

The regional director of the Department of Public Works and Highways admitted as much, according to SunStar Cebu yesterday. The bridges will not push through, he explained, because the technology to build them does not exist.

So why did we propose two projects that we knew from the very beginning were impossible to build because of inadequate technical know-how? Search me.

If it’s any consolation to us, the planned Metro Cebu Expressway will proceed. Compared to the canceled bridges that serve no urgent purpose other than bragging rights, the 74-kilometer expressway is a must-do. And I am happy to note the report that Segment 3 has been started even if it does not necessarily mean that we will soon be traveling between Naga City in the south and Danao City in the north in comfort, meaning traffic hassle-free. Not yet, Rizal, not yet. That glorious hour is yet too long to come.

Which begs the question, are we ever going to do something about our narrow highways before they become a real problem?

Yesterday, I motored to Boljoon for a court hearing and noted once more that the south national highway starting in Carcar is basically a two-lane affair. The road’s planners obviously had no vision and did not plan for the future. As commerce between Cebu City and Negros island continues to grow, it won’t be long before the highway will be groaning from the burden of heavy traffic.

What complicates any program to widen the highway is the presence of houses and other buildings by the roadside. One of the monumental blunders of the government is its failure to enforce setback regulations governing buildings located along the highway.

Because of this, any road expansion is going to be very expensive because of road-right-of-way acquisition cost. As if that is not enough, the DPWH will have to remove the roadside trees, a job that as recent experience has shown, is next to impossible.

I call on the DPWH and the local government units to strictly monitor constructions and improvements along the highway and refuse to issue building permits unless the setback requirement is observed. It is a little too late to do that now considering the number of houses built along the roads but, as they say, we can at least stop the bleeding.

Incidentally, I noticed that motorcycle drivers outside of Cebu City and Talisay do not wear helmets. The biggest number of violators is in Carcar, which is a travesty, considering that there is a Land Transportation Office right along the highway.

If they’re not too busy evaluating insurance policies, Carcar LTO personnel should venture out of their office and start apprehending violators of the helmet and other laws.


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