Malilong: Just asking

The Other Side
Malilong: I remember you, Masbate
SunStar Malilong

When I was a young lawyer, I did not have to worry about arriving late in court for out-of-town hearings even if I departed from the city on the same day. Now, you have to leave the day before if you do not want to risk a dressing-down from the judge for upsetting the court schedule.

So last Tuesday, I decided in favor of a one-night stay in Boljoon over leaving at 4 a.m. the following day to make sure I was ready when my case was called. I’m glad I did. The 103-kilometer drive to that southeastern town used to take only a little over two hours. This time, it took four long ones. And we traveled in the evening, when traffic was supposed to be light!

The culprit this time was the repair work being conducted simultaneously in many sections of the national highway. I counted at least 11 stops from Naga to Boljoon to allow the alternate use of what’s left of the road by the incoming and outgoing traffic.

It was the same story the following day when I went home.

I don’t have any issue with road closures occasioned by repair or maintenance work. On the contrary, I find them pleasant because they remind me that the government—my government—is also working.

What I cannot understand is the timing. For many months, the earth was dry. Why didn’t they start working then? Why only now, when the rains are back, and with them, possible interruptions in the work and consequently, delays in the project’s completion?

This phenomenon is, of course, not peculiar to the province. The same thing is happening in the city and I do not have to look far to find an example. It is happening right on my doorstep. All right, that is an exaggeration. It’s 500 meters from my doorstep.

Which begs the question: why is it happening now? Does the approaching election have anything to do with it? Are the schedules being dictated by politicians who want something recent to brag about during the campaign? Or is there another, somewhat sinister, motive behind it?

In the province, at least you can see through the naked eye that the roads do need to be repaired or concreted. It is not always so in the city and it is infuriating.

During the second term of Mayor Michael Rama, the road in our area was so bad that you had to drive very slowly if you wanted to avoid getting tossed around and injuring yourself. The potholes were not only plenty, most of them were so huge, you could bathe your dog in them when it rained.

I wrote about our plight quite often and it irked Rama. He told his cousin Rene Mercado to ask me if we were still friends. In fairness, the mayor had the road repaired up to, no kidding, our doorstep.

This time, they’re overdoing it. One month, they had the road asphalted. A couple of months later, they stripped it bare, closing it to traffic even though it was still in good order. Why did they destroy it? What gives? Or should the question begin with “who” instead?

Lest the mayor or whoever it was who was responsible for the cannibalization of an otherwise usable road, also take umbrage, let me state that I am not complaining. Just asking.

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