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Highway to new Iloilo Airport snagged by right-of-way claims

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) vowed to hasten the expansion of the national highway from Iloilo City to Sta. Barbara, Iloilo, particularly the provision of easement and sidewalks.

Engr. Juby Cordon, DPWH assistant regional director, said they are processing the compensation and relocation of residents who will be affected by the P568-million widening project.

Aside from widening, the project also includes the rehabilitation and asphalt overlay of the 13.10-kilometer Iloilo City-Pavia-Sta. Barbara. The contractor of the project is Iloilo Builders Corp.

The road was widened from two lanes to four lanes to facilitate easier vehicular traffic flow towards the new Iloilo airport in Cabatuan-Sta. Barbara area.

The project is encountering problems in the provision of easement and sidewalks, particularly the 2.74-kilometer road stretching from the Diversion Road in Mandurriao to Jaro, Iloilo City.

Cordon said the budget for the project included the easement and sidewalks but they have to acquire privately-owned lots for the road-right-of-way and utility lines.

The road is supposed to have a 1.5-meter shoulder aside from the sidewalk as part of the easement.

The lack of the road shoulder rendered the widening project useless as private and public utility vehicles park on the road posing hazards to traffic.

Pedestrians also traverse the lanes while houses are almost standing on the road.

Cordon said they have acquired 20 meters of easement from the center of the road but several residents are encroaching on the right-of-way.

“We also have to process the compensation and relocation of residents whose lots will be acquired for the easement. The DPWH has requested the help of the Iloilo City government in relocating these residents,” Cordon said.

Cordon said they also requested Panay Electric Co. to move its posts from the easement to facilitate the construction of the shoulders and sidewalk.

Cordon was one of the resource persons during a press conference of Bantay Lansangan or Road Watch.

Bantay Lansangan is a multi-sectoral group composed of non-government, private stakeholders, and official development partners to work with the DPWH and other government stakeholder agencies in enhancing the delivery of quality national road services.

Formed in 2007, the initiative seeks to increase transparency and access to information on the one hand, as well as monitor DPWH performance in delivering national road services.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A MULTI-sectoral group monitoring road projects in the country will observe the construction of 20 major road constructions in Iloilo.

Vince Lazatin, executive director of Bantay Lansangan (Road Watch), said the Iloilo roads are part of the 40 projects included in the second round of monitoring in Visayas region.

Bantay Lansangan (BL) seeks to increase transparency and access to information and monitor Department of Public Works and Highway’s (DPWH) performance in delivering national road services.

The aim of the initiative is to reduce transaction costs for road construction and maintenance, improve response times for maintenance, increase road user satisfaction, and improve public perception of the DPWH.

BL is funded by the Australian Agency for International Development. 

During the first round of monitoring in Iloilo, BL’s report on the provincial P30-million road project in Brgy. Mambog, Oton prompted DPWH to order the contractor to remove and replace a defective portion of the road.

President Gloria Arroyo visited and inaugurated the road project last July 28, 2009.

Based on the BL monitoring report prepared by Iloilo CODE, a group of non-government organizations, cracks were found in a 4-kilometer portion of the road.

Engr. Juby Cordon, DPWH-6 regional director, their agency found cracks on the project even before BL started monitoring projects in Iloilo.

Cordon said the DPWH ordered the contractor, F. Gurrea Construction, to remove and replace the damaged portion at its expense.

Cordon said they appreciate BL’s effort as a partner of DPWH in implementing road projects.

According to I-CODE, this is the first time in 10 years that the DPWH issued a “remove and replace” order to a contractor.

“It’s good that there is a third party monitor that could attest to how we are trying to respond to citizens’ concerns and how we fight corruption since it will be self-serving if these statements would come from us,” Cordon said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo 

PRESIDENT Gloria M. Arroyo got a taste of so-called “boulevards of broken dreams” when she visited two towns in the second congressional district of Iloilo Thursday.

The President first visited Pavia to check the Anilao Bridge and the Pagsangaan-Tigum-Cabugao Norte road concreting projects in the said town.

Mrs. Arroyo also checked the ongoing works in the Pavia portion of the Iloilo Flood Control Project which she ordered finished this year.

The Pagsangaan-Tigum-Cabugao Norte, which was damaged during typhoon Frank, became controversial late last year when Pavia Mayor Arcadio Gorriceta accused Rep. Judy Syjuco of allegedly trying to “hijack” the P28-million project.

Gorriceta, who claimed that he initiated the project, then was mad upon learning that the 4th Engineering District will rehabilitate the road using “dakal-dakal” (sand and gravel) instead of asphalting or concreting.

President Arroyo intervened by ordering the concreting of the 3.4-kilometer provincial road in Pavia.

From Pavia, Mrs. Arroyo went on a bumpy ride on board a coaster of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center to Alimodian, Iloilo where she led the groundbreaking rites for the Nichols Bridge project.

The President experienced the so-called “abortion roads” in Brgys. Aganan, Balabag, Pandac and Hibao-an, Pavia and San Jose, San Miguel en route to Alimodian.

The Department of Public Works and Highways deployed personnel who covered the potholes with sand and gravel in an attempt to afford the President with a smoother ride.

The road leading to San Miguel town proper has been a subject of complaints from residents and motorists after the asphalt pavement was damaged by big trucks carrying aggregates and filling soil.

The 4th Engineering District had promised to fix the road since last year but the road continues to hassle motorists and commuters to the Aleosan (Alimodian-Leon-San Miguel) area.

Interestingly, Rep. Syjuco and husband TESDA Director General Augusto Syjuco were part of the President’s party during the 3-hour visit.

In the briefing on the Nichols Bridge project, Mrs. Arroyo interrupted DPWH Usec. Rafael Yabut and told him to fast-track the project.

Yabut replied that they will work on a 24-7 basis to finish the bridge early.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILONGGO officials asked for more money from President Gloria Arroyo to fund the repair and replacement of infrastructure damaged by typhoon Frank last year.

Presidential Adviser for Western Visayas Raul Banias said he, Rep. Arthur Defensor Sr. (3rd district, Iloilo) and Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas submitted a memorandum to President Arroyo asking for the release of some P900 million from the national government’s calamity fund.

The three officials submitted the memorandum during a closed door meeting with the President Tuesday in Tatoy’s Manokan in Arevalo, Iloilo City.

Banias said the money will be used to replace 10 damaged bridges and dredging of the Iloilo River and Dungon Creek.

Banias said they requested the funds while Congress has yet to pass the Simplified Net Income Taxation Scheme (SNITS) Bill which is the funding source of the P8-billion Paglaum Fund.

The Paglaum Fund will be used to rehabilitate areas and sectors devastated by flashfloods brought about by typhoon Frank June 21-22, 2008.

The SNITS Bill is still stuck in the Senate committee on ways and means chaired by Senator Panfilo Lacson.

The President visited Iloilo Tuesday to inspect a road project linking the towns of Oton and San Miguel. She also inspected the ongoing construction of the Camangahan Bridge linking Guimbal and Tubungan towns.

Mrs. Arroyo also went to Cabatuan to check the works on the Tigum and Amerang Bridges.

Banias said President Arroyo already released P60 million for the Camangahan Bridge while another P45 million will be released to complete the project by December this year.

Some P160 million was allotted for the Tigum Bridge while another P180 million was set aside for the Amerang Bridge.

Banias said the President also wanted the Tigum and Ameran bridges replaced before her term ends next year.

The national government earlier released some P481 million for the partial rehabilitation and repair of the damaged structures.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE construction of the second vehicular flyover in Iloilo City is set to begin next month, according to Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas.

Treñas said Engr. Emil Sadain, executive director of the President’s Bridge Program, visited his office to request the city government’s assistance in the project.

The new flyover project will traverse from the junction of Jalandoni and General Luna Street to the Iloilo American Memorial School on General Luna Street (beside the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration office).

The project will be undertaken by the national government through the President’s Bridge Program.

Treñas said Sadain asked the City government to clear the project site of electric and telephone lines to give way for the construction.

Woodfields Consultants Inc. conducted the soil/geotechnical investigation on the proposed project site before final the construction phase. The design of the flyover is dependent on the soil test.

The mayor said construction will begin once the City Engineer’s Office has cleared the posts and wires in the project site.

City Administrator Melchor Tan also met with representatives of telecom firms whose lines will be affected by the project to seek their help in the clearing works.

Treñas said the Traffic Management and Engineering Unit is preparing a traffic plan for the rerouting of vehicles once the construction begins.

The contractor of the second flyover project is a French firm as the project is funded by the French government through its Mega Bridges for Urban and Rural Development Project.

“If the construction begins next month, the contractor vowed to finish the project by December 2009. The structure will be pre-fabricated and will be almost similar to the first flyover over Infante and General Luna Streets,” Treñas said.

The first flyover project costs P400 million and was undertaken by British firm Mabey and Johnson.

The city government also wants another flyover to be constructed at the Taft North-Diversion Road area where traffic jams are common.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo and Tara Yap

 

THERE is a need to improve port facilities for pump boats plying the Iloilo-Guimaras route for the comfort of stranded passengers in case boats are barred from traveling due to bad weather.

This was the concern of almost 2,000 passengers who waited for over a day for pump boats to resume operation while tropical storm “Feria” passed through Panay.

The PCG bars all water crafts with 1,000 and below gross tonnage from setting out to sea when a typhoon signal is raised from their ports of origin and destination.

Pump boat operators who violate the regulation will be fined P5,000 per passenger on board their vessels.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) stopped all pump boats from Iloilo to Jordan and Buenavista and Guimaras Tuesday afternoon when weather bureau PAG-ASA hoisted Typhoon Signal No. 1 in Iloilo City and southern Iloilo.

Northern Iloilo and the rest of Panay were put under Signal No. 2 as of early morning Wednesday.

The stranded passengers waited from 1pm Tuesday until 5pm Wednesday for the storm signal to be lifted so that pump boats can ferry passengers across the strait.

While some of the passengers spent the night with relatives or friends in Iloilo, most of them stayed at the Parola area where pump boats bound for Jordan and Buenavista are docked.

Annie of Buenavista said she endured the cold night and rains at the Parola area thinking that the storm will soon pass and they could get home.

“If only the terminal is in good condition where we could spend the night away, we might not complain much. We understand the regulations but I don’t think it’s right that we will suffer this way,” Annie said.

The Parola area has kiosks for food and other items but it has no port terminal area where passengers could sit and wait.

Kalaw-ay gid ya sang port (The port is very bad),” a college student from Buenavista said.

Other passengers opted to board the pump boats to avoid the jostling with other travelers when the trips resume.

Some travelers complained that the boats did not have gangplanks for boarding. Instead, they were made to use the slippery boat outrigger. A gangplank is a board or ramp used as a removable footway between a ship and a pier.

Female passengers who wanted to urinate went to the nearby PCG-Iloilo station and other government offices in the area.

Passengers who were stranded in Iloilo city appealed to local officials in Guimaras to provide food as they do not have enough money.  Their money is only good for transportation fare.

Nani Galvez, executive assistant to Guimaras Gov.  Felipe Nava, told The Daily Guardian that the provincial government provided food for the stranded passengers at the gym of Barangay Concepcion near Parola wharf  in Iloilo City where many stranded passengers sought refuge. 

Passengers bound for Bacolod City were in a relatively better situation because they stayed in ferry terminals with comfort rooms and televisions.

The PCG lifted the travel ban around 5pm Wednesday after PAG-ASA cleared Iloilo of any storm signal.

As of Wednesday morning, the PCG said 1,405 passengers were in various ports in Iloilo. All over Western Visayas, a total of 1,619 were trapped because of typhoon “Feria”.

PORT PROJECTS

The Iloilo City government and Metro Iloilo Guimaras Economic Development Council have proposed the Guimaras-Iloilo Ferry Terminal System (GIFTS).

The GIFTS project, which is still in the feasibility study stage, will improve and modernize the Parola, Buenavista and Jordan wharves to cater to the expanding number of commuters between Iloilo and Guimaras.

The Ortiz Port, which serves passengers bound for Jordan, Guimaras, will also continue to operate to preserve the livelihood of residents near the port.

A pre-feasibility study conducted last year by the Consultants for Comprehensive Environmental Planning Inc. (Concep) showed the project is viable but it will require big funding.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said the project could be undertaken through public-private collaboration.

“We don’t foresee the government to spend, thus it will be a public-private partnership. The city government will act as partner, while the private sector will put up and run the facility because it will be difficult for the city to operate a port. Once the port facilities are improved, more tourists will arrive which means more economic activities for the city and Guimaras,” Treñas said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Iloilo City government will appeal the decision of the World Bank (WB) to shorten its road widening project spanning Iloilo City and Capiz.

 

Engr. Rolando Asis, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH-6) regional director, said WB did not include the road section from Montinola Bridge in Jaro, Iloilo City to Zarraga, Iloilo in the National Roads Improvement and Management Program (NRIMP-2).

 

NRIMP-2’s road rehabilitation and upgrading program is supposed to extend from 2 lanes to 4 lanes the highway from Iloilo City to Capiz.

 

But Asis said the WB project will only cover Zarraga-Ivisan, Capiz section due to rising prices of materials.

 

“The initial project cost estimate in the feasibility study way back in 2000 was more than P400 million. But that estimate is not enough if we include the Montinola Bridge-Zarraga section. That’s the reason why the World Bank cut short the project scope,” Asis said.

 

Asis said the WB did not withdraw or suspend the project.

 

“They only shortened the scope of works because prices of materials went up. The WB commitment (to fund the project) is still there,” added.

 

Another factor why the project was shortened is the acquisition of private lots for the road-right-of-way.

 

The Zarraga-Ivisan rehabilitation and upgrading project will include the widening of 6 bridges spanning the two municipalities.

 

Asis said they appealed with WB to include the Montinola Bridge-Zarraga section reduce the traffic jam in the area.

 

“But if that section is not included in NRIMP-2, it will be included in NRIMP-3,” Asis added.

 

Six bridges in Iloilo will be widened in Iloilo – Casalsagan and Suage Bridges in Pototan town; Jalaur and Aglalana Bridges in Passi City; Abangay Bridge in Dingle town and Ulian Bridge in Duenas town.

 

Mayor Jerry Treñas asked the Sangguniang Panlungsod to pass a resolution appealing to WB to reconsider its decision.

 

Treñas said motorists passing through Montinola Bridge, which connects Brgy. Tabuc Suba to Jaro plaza area, suffer from traffic jams during rush hours because of its limited space.

 

Treñas said he will bring the matter to the attention of President Gloria Arroyo and DPWH Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane.

 

The City Council approved last the resolution authored by Councilor Eduardo Peñaredondo, committee on infrastructure chair, appealing WB’s decision to shorten the road project.

 

WB representatives recently met DPWH Project Management Office-National Road Improvement Project Director Carlos Mutuc, Asis and other district engineers to discuss the projects.

 

The WB team is composed of Ben Gericke, Yitzhak Kamhi, Dominic Aumentado and Victor Dato. The team also inspected the six Iloilo bridges that will be covered by NRIMP 2.

 

Juby Cordon, DPWH assistant regional director, said funds for the project are still being determined as WB and DPWH are still finalizing the project design.

 

“Their visit was aimed at determining areas that will be affected and looked into possible resettlement action. The project implementation might start next year. The six bridges that will get World Bank support were constructed in the 1980s and are already showing signs of deterioration,” Cordon said.

 

The WB recently uncovered a major cartel involving local and international firms bidding on NRIMP-1. It also barred seven companies – three from the Philippines and four from China – from bidding on its projects due to alleged corruption.

 

The World Bank’s corruption-fighting unit said the firms were blacklisted for “engaging in collusive practices” during the bidding of the project financed by the global development lender.

 

The blacklisted firms are:

 

–         Philippines-based E.C. de Luna Construction Corp. and its owner Eduardo de Luna were barred permanently, the strongest possible sanction and the first since 2004;

–         Philippines’ Cavite Ideal International Construction and Development Corp. and CM Pancho Construction, Inc. were each barred for four years;

–         China Road and Bridge Corp. was barred for eight years;

–         China State Construction Corp. and China Wu Yi Co. Ltd. were each barred for six years;

–         China Geo-Engineering Corp. was barred for five years;

–         Korean firm Dongsung Construction Co. Ltd was separately sanctioned in August 2008 for four years for fraud and corruption related to the NRIMP in the Philippines.

July 2020
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