CEBU -- Five days after Seniang toppled the Dumlog Bridge in Sibonga, an alternative road for buses and cargo trucks was opened Sunday in Barangays Lindogon and Simala.
However, the alternative road will only be open from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. because local officials want to prevent traffic congestion during the day.
Vice President Jejomar Binay no longer inspected Dumlog Bridge during his trip to southern Cebu on Sunday.
But the Vice President said he will meet with Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson and urge him to fast-track its rehabilitation.
Traffic is expected to be heavy in the south today, Monday, as thousands of commuters head back to Metro Cebu for work or classes, after spending the New Year holiday in their hometowns.
A flash flood at the height of Tropical Storm Seniang last week washed away the approaches to the Dumlog Bridge, which caused the structure to fall.
The loss of Dumlog Bridge has complicated travel to southern towns beyond Sibonga and limited access by cargo trucks bearing fuel, vegetables and other supplies.
The alternative road can accommodate up to 20 tons, enough to carry buses and big trucks, but it will be open for only four hours before dawn.
“This consensus was reached by the Provincial Government with the DPWH and Mayor Lionel Bacaltos of Sibonga today,” read a text message Sunday from Provincial Information Officer Ethel Natera.
Personnel from the town will oversee the traffic flow.
Since the alternative road is not available in the morning, Natera said that bus passengers will have to get off at one end of the bridge, ride a motorcycle or cross a footbridge to the other side, then take another bus there.
“We are trying our best to find another path,” she said.
The DPWH and the Municipality of Sibonga are also constructing another footbridge for residents and commuters who need to cross Dumlog.
Natera also said that the DPWH aims to finish one lane of the temporary steel bridge in Dumlog before Sinulog. The solemn procession will be on January 17 and the street-dancing parade will be on the day after that.
At least 17 individuals died in Cebu Province when Tropical Storm Seniang hit the southern towns.
Vice President Binay visited three towns and Carcar City on Sunday to offer his condolences and hand over cash assistance to the affected families.
In Ronda, he distributed relief goods assisted by Mayor Mariano Blanco III and other municipal and barangay officials.
Speaking at the balcony of the Ronda Municipal Hall, Binay said he wanted to assess the situation directly.
“I can firmly determine what action I am going to take if I have first-hand information about what happened. As the second highest official of our country, I sympathize with your suffering,” Binay said.
He expressed his sympathy for the family of Junardo Bajenting of Barangay Tupas, Ronda, who lost many members when a flood swept away their two-storey house.
He also gave financial assistance to Magdalena Batomalaque, who lost four members of her family during the flood.
When informed by Mayor Blanco that 48 houses were washed away by flood about 102 other houses were heavily damaged, Binay ordered his staff in the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council to work with government housing agencies so they may know where to source funds to help rebuild houses.
“Don’t lose hope. Remember that life must go on. Coordinate with your mayor, who is a Boy Scout like me,” he told the Ronda crowd.
The Vice President then proceeded to Dumanjug town where he was welcomed by Mayor Nelson Garcia and the mayor’s sister, Representative Gwendolyn Garcia.
Binay joined the boodle-style lunch in the Dumanjug public market, participated by dozens of residents. In Ronda, Binay ate camote and banana. In Dumanjug, he had some corn and dried anchovies.
He later distributed relief goods to Seniang survivors gathered in the Dumanjug gymnasium.
In Sibonga, Binay was met by Mayor Lionel Bacaltos, Vice Mayor Rey Apuda, Councilor Baby Bugtai and other officials, and businessman and TV newscaster Glenn Soco.
Binay went to the Catholic church where the family of Macaria Revilla, 66, of Barangay Tubod, Sibonga brought her body for a final blessing before her burial.
Then the vice president distributed relief goods to Seniang survivors before proceeding to a meeting with Bacaltos, Apuda and other municipal officials.
In Carcar City, Binay was met by Vice Mayor Patrick Barcenas and Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) President Mercy Apura, the mayor’s wife, who waited with hundreds of survivors for the Vice President’s arrival.
“I came here today to help you. You know, you will only know who your true friends are in times of crisis and calamities,” Binay said.
Representative Garcia accompanied Binay in Dumanjug, Sibonga and Carcar, and in every speech, she referred to Binay as the next president of the Philippines. (FMG/EOB/Sun.Star Cebu)