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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.

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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.

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