CEBU CITY -- All the roads and bridges that last year’s earthquake damaged in Bohol Province are now passable, officials said.
But the road to full recovery remains challenging, and Bohol will need around P12.314 billion to rehabilitate everything the quake damaged or wiped out.
When the 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Bohol last October 15, 2013, 17 out of its 48 towns were hit hardest. Some were isolated because bridges leading to them collapsed and landslides covered the roads.
Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto said the quake destroyed 9,151 houses and damaged 59,526 others.
The initial report from 17 of the hardest hit towns in Bohol alone listed 8,083 houses that were destroyed and 34,688 that were damaged. In Regions 6 and 7, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council listed 67,000 houses damaged, most of them in Bohol.
The official record, the governor said, shows 212 dead, 877 injured, eight missing and 76,792 displaced families as a result of the quake.
P3.3B for infra
While damaged bridges have been replaced and damaged roads resurfaced, District Engineer Francis Antonio Flores of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said these were temporary measures.
A huge budget is needed to construct the permanent structures that will be resilient to calamities, he added.
DPWH 7 Director Ador Canlas said the total funding requirement for the rehabilitation of Bohol’s infrastructure after the quake is P3.269 billion.
Of that, P764.25 million will pay for national roads; P991.20 million for local roads; P493.56 million for national bridges; P51.50 million for flood control; P297.34 million for other public buildings; P649.24 million for school buildings; and P22.50 million for other structures.
So far, DPWH has access to P294.42 million.
Director Canlas said, however, that the agency proposed the inclusion in the 2015 national budget of P375.20 million for national roads and P30 million for national bridges in Bohol.
In addition, P287.169 million will be released from the DPWH calamity funds for five national bridges.
“So, the total funding that may be available, including the amount under the 2015 budget, is P996.798 million,” Canlas said.
He said that amount corresponds to 75 percent of the funding requirement for Bohol, at least for the infrastructure projects that are the DPWH’s responsibility.
When asked what changes the DPWH adopted as a result of the earthquake, Canlas said that for roads, DPWH initially leveled those sections with severe cracks and settlement.
No paving was done until the aftershocks ceased and the ground became stable.
Replacements for collapsed bridges were made longer, so that their abutments—those structures where a bridge rests on both ends—can be more secure.
As for school buildings, Canlas said that the Department of Education (DepEd), working with the DPWH, came up with a new design that will make school buildings more resilient to earthquakes and typhoons.
A geotechnical study is being conducted to make sure the ground where these structures will be built is stable.
A year after the quake, is safer infrastructure in place?
Canlas said by the end of 2013, DPWH completed the temporary structures for five bridges that collapsed or had been found unsafe.
These five bridges are the Moalong Bridge in Loon, Abatan Bridge in Cortes, Tagbuane Bridge in Antequera, Tultugan Bridge in Calape and Desamparados Bridge in Calape.
Also, he said, the DPWH completed the rehabilitation of roads and other bridges to make these passable and safe for commuters.
“The other towns where damage was only to local structures are the recipients of projects to be or which are being undertaken by local governments and other national agencies,” Director Canlas said.
The DPWH, said District Engineer Flores, spent nearly P24 million to install temporary steel bridges in Calape, Cortes, Antequera and Loon.
“Please take note that we only spent for the labor, fuel for the equipment and the transport of the materials for the steel bridges from the different DPWH depots in Bataan, Cagayan de Oro City and Aklan,” Flores said.
For his part, Governor Chatto said the programs to help families affected by the earthquake will continue under the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Director Efren Carreon of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) 7 said that the Regional Development Council 7 endorsed the Bohol Rehabilitation Plan last December 2013.
It reached President Aquino sometime in January 2014. (Sun.Star Cebu)