Briones: Accountability

I AGREE with Cebu City Councilor Joy Pesquera.

The DPWH should be held accountable if the underpass that it insisted on implementing on N. Bacalso Ave. will not improve traffic in the area.

If I remember correctly, the previous administration of Michael Rama had shelved the project because Rama wanted the diversion roads widened first.

“We had a united stand that we will not be allowing anything yet in that area. Though the project could be laudable, but if done without addressing first the diversion roads (there may be problems),” he said back in 2015.

And guess what? He was right. Rama, though, lost the election, and his successor Tomas Osmeña didn’t share his sentiments.

Ador Canlas, the overstaying director of DPWH 7, must have jumped for joy when he realized that the project would finally get the green light.

In the agency’s excitement to implement the project, it made several changes to the specs.

The underpass project that Rama was talking about involved widening N. Bacalso to six lanes and using the two center lanes for a Storm Water Management and Road Tunnel.

But the project being implemented now, once completed, will still have four lanes: one lane each as a side road for northbound and southbound commuters and one lane each reserved for northbound and southbound commuters using the tunnel.

In other words, nothing really will have changed. That stretch of N. Bacalso will still be four lanes, albeit two of the lanes will be “depressed.”

Now I can see why.

Engr. Roy dela Cruz, DPWH project engineer, said the project’s budget of P700 million can only afford one lane each for the tunnel, and one lane each for the side roads.

But the original project was estimated to cost the same P700 million, with two additional lanes and a Storm Water Management and Road Tunnel, to boot.

Yeah, I know about inflation, but why do I have this nagging feeling that this project is costing more for less?

Mind you, the contractor and the agency have also been mum on the tunnel’s ability to manage storm water. Perhaps, if it will get flooded, Pesquera will have additional grounds to sue DPWH and all the officials involved.

But didn’t dela Cruz also cite problems with acquisitions of road right-of-way. If that was the case, then why the rush in implementing it?

Now, the agency is displaying the same sense of urgency in wanting the underpass project on U.N. Ave. to get off the shelf despite objections from the Regional Development Council 7 and a business group, which warned of economic losses as a result of traffic that could be P300 million daily.

Hmm.
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