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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

'DPWH should widen roads, not repair good ones'

INSTEAD of “destroying” serviceable roads that only result in traffic congestion like on S. Osmeña Blvd. in Cebu City, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) should widen major roads in Metro Cebu.

The Metro Cebu Development Coordinating Board (MCDCB) sub-committee on infrastructure and utilities made this appeal yesterday, amid the growing frustration of motorists over bumper-to-bumper traffic, particularly in areas where road concreting and drainage projects are ongoing.

During the MCDCB full council meeting at the Talisay City Hall yesterday, Engr. Fortunato Sanchez  Jr., the subcommittee chairman, pointed out the need to widen major roads instead of “fixing” those that are not damaged, such as S. Osmeña Blvd. and the national highway in Minglanilla town.

He also raised the need to widen A.S. Fortuna St. in Mandaue City and improve all intersections on that four-kilometer stretch to ease worsening traffic in the area.

But DPWH 7 Regional Director Ador Canlas said that while some roads appear to be in good condition, they no longer meet DPWH standards and need to be repaired.

He told the council yesterday that their agency also has several road-widening and drainage projects in the pipeline, but problems with the road right-of-way (RROW) acquisition are delaying the implementation.

DPWH hopes the projects will be sped up with the approval of the amendments to Republic Act (RA) 8974 or the “Act to facilitate the acquisition of right-of-way, site or location for national government infrastructure projects and for other purposes.”

Canlas said one reason the RROW acquisition is delayed is that expropriation proceedings take time and before it is finalized, the funds intended for it have already reverted to the national coffers.

As provided for in the General Appropriation Act (GAA), funds for infrastructure projects that are not used during the budget year revert to the National Government at the end of the year.

Canlas said that he has been asking that funds for RROW acquisition be separated from the budget for infrastructure projects to avoid problems.

During the meeting, Consolacion Mayor Teresa Alegado moved for all 13 Metro Cebu mayors to lobby with the National Government for additional funds for the RROW acquisition.

To address concerns on funds for expropriation of lots reverting to the National Government, National Economic Development Authority Director Efren Carreon suggested securing a multi-year obligation authority (MYOA) for all road-widening projects.

With the MYOA, unused funds for the projects will continue to be included in the budget for the following year, until the project is fully implemented.

“It has been done, it has been accepted in that project,” said Carreon.

Aside from road-widening projects, Canlas said the proposed circumferential road that will connect the southern towns of Metro Cebu to the northern towns is also seen to decongest traffic in the cities of Cebu and Mandaue.

In the same meeting, the subcommittee on infrastructure and utilities called the MCDCB’s attention to the 1995 Metro Cebu Drainage Master Plan drafted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), which they said should be updated so it can be used to address the flooding problem in Metro Cebu.

In the master plan, five rivers would be used as open drainage—Bulacao, Kinalumsan, Guadalupe, Lahug and Subangdaku Rivers.

Bulacao and Kinalumsan end up in the pond at the South Road Properties, while Guadalupe, Lahug and Subangdaku end up in the sea.

When the study was conducted, the implementation of the projects in the master plan would cost P1.7 billion for infrastructure and another P2.4 billion for RROW.
Canlas said the 1995 drainage plan was not implemented for lack of funding.

He said the master plan needs to be updated, but it can still be used to address flooding.

Belinda Navascues, secretary to Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, said that Rama, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes and Talisay Mayor Johnny de los Reyes have agreed last November to connect the drainage systems of their cities and to implement the Jica study.

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