Sunday, December 05, 2021

Espinoza: An embarrassment

Free Zone

THE flooding of the underpass in Mambaling, Cebu City every time it rains even for 30 minutes is expected because of the lack of appropriate drainage. This underpass project implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is not only an embarrassment to the Duterte administration but also to the engineering profession.

DPWH-Central Visayas Director Edgar Tabacon admitted, albeit not apologetic, that the flooding problem in this P638-million underpass in Mambaling during rainy days is due to the lack of drainage. According to Tabacon, the drainage work was put off because of the difficulty in acquiring the road right-of-way (RROW). Understandably, a drainage in every road project is part of the plan.

The question now that hangs in the balance is, why did the DPWH push through with the underpass project when they knew they could not widen the side roads and construct the drainage because of the problem in acquiring the RROW? I suppose funding was not a problem because there was an appropriation P16.7 million for the drainage and payment for acquisition of the RROW. And, where this P16.7 million went? Of course, not into their pockets.

This underpass had become the butt of jokes every time it's filled with rain water even during a 30-minute rain. Computer savvies posted the photos of the underpass as a swimming pool where children were swimming and on Good Friday, this under pass looks like a pool of "benignit," a staple food for those who are fasting. What a shame!

Mayor Edgardo Labella had to act on the flooding problem that causes gargantuan traffic because the underpass is in Cebu City but funded by the national government and managed by the DPWH. Mayor Labella wrote DPWH Sec. Mark Villar to send experts and to check into the "functionality and structural integrity" of this underpass. Well, I don't want to preempt the secretary, but I already have in mind what would be his possible response.

During the construction of this underpass years back, the motorists and travelers have to endure the traffic gridlock caused by the lack of the proper diversion routes since this part and length of the road was closed to traffic. The DWPH-Central Visayas and Cebu City Government officials have had verbal exchanges blaming each other for the traffic fiasco. Imagine, from Talamban, it would take more than hour to reach Pardo.

I remember and I agree with Mayor Labella that this project was supposed to include underground concrete cisterns to serve as storage for floodwater in case of rains. As to why it was ditched, only the DPWH officials could explain. Never mind Mayor Labella, this underpass is an instant cistern when it rains.

Before this underpass project was implemented, there were arguments and suggestions that a flyover is a better option and faster to construct just like the flyover in the other intersections of the city. But someone said since the budget for the underpass is already approved, then it has to proceed come what may.

I would like to pose this question for my fellow lawyers to react. Could the project proponents be held legally and administratively liable in pursuing this underpass project, which is substandard and since they know beforehand that they have a problem in acquiring the RROW for the drainage?

On the other hand, may I ask the Cebu City officials on what is the city's basis in the registration of senior citizens for the Covid-19 vaccination. Is it the voting residence? Some senior citizens complained on social media that nobody has reached them for the vaccine registration.


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