By Joseph B.A. Marzan and Francis Allan L. Angelo.
The integrity of two multimillion-peso flyovers in Iloilo City and Pavia town in Iloilo is getting more attention on their respective integrities.
A member of the House of Representatives on Sunday stated that he will call for an inquiry into the controversial Ungka Flyover, aiming to move nationally funded infrastructure projects further into the spotlight for accountability.
Representative Raoul Manuel (Kabataan Party-list) was joined by local members of the party-list in conducting an ocular inspection on the P680-million Ungka flyover.
The inspection included examination of the beams and girders underneath the flyover as well as its carriageway atop the structure.
Manuel also conducted a consultation with residents of Iloilo City and Pavia town, as well as jeepney drivers plying routes in the area.
The Ilonggo youth sector representative told Daily Guardian that his observations on the flyover as well as the consultations with residents resulted in a resolution that he would file soon with the lower house.
“[The resolution] is to urge the appropriate committee in the House of Representatives to investigate the Ungka Flyover project. We received lots of concerns regarding the [Ungka and Aganan flyovers],” Manuel said in a phone interview.
He added that this should be a huge national concern, along with the nearby Aganan Flyover in Pavia, given that these are projects by the Department of Public Works and Highways, which meant that it involved nationally collected taxes.
“On our end, this is a big issue for Ilonggos, but at the same time this issue has national relevance because people’s taxes were spent on this, and what we want regarding [infrastructure] projects, wherever they may be, they must be helpful to the people and should not worsen the problems,” he added.
“We want to know what happened to the flyover. We’re talking about P680 million, which is a big amount and should not be wasted. For ordinary citizens, there is a helpless feeling because the flyover is already there, but people need to do a U-turn [at the President Corazon Aquino Avenue]. The purpose of these projects is the comfort of the lives of our [commuting] public. We hope that this inquiry would shed light on how we should move forward with this project,” he expounded further.
Manuel believes that the inquiry, should it proceed after approval by the House, would be more helpful on top of the inquiries already being conducted by local legislatures and regional bodies.
“With more efforts, we believe that it could help to answer the people’s queries and ultimately move concerned parties, especially those who were involved in the construction of the flyovers, to address the concerns of our fellow Ilonggos,” he said.
“Whatever the findings [of these inquiries], it would be better to report it to Congress. Given that it has been many months that Ilonggos were affected. One team has been relied upon by the DPWH to study what happened and how to fix it, and it would take more than a year. For Ilonggos, that’s already too long. This would put [more] pressure to speed things up,” he added.
Manuel said that he has not spoken to his colleagues who represent the affected areas – Reps. Julienne Baronda (Iloilo City-Lone) and Michael Gorriceta (Iloilo-2nd) – and did not indicate whether or not he would talk to them soon.
Prior to the end of the year, DPWH-Western Visayas Assistant Regional Director Jose Al Fruto told Daily Guardian that they are still waiting for recommendations from consultants hired by the agency’s central office as to the state of Piers 4, 5, and 6, of the “sinking” Ungka flyover.
Engr. Nilo Jardeleza, who attended the Regional Development Council meeting into the flyover, suggested a total overhaul of all of the flyover’s affected piers due to structural issues, which may take more than a year.
Meanwhile, Sangguniang Bayan Member Pyt Trimañez of Pavia town told Daily Guardian that he will deliver a speech in their session today to discuss the recent developments in the P560-million Aganan flyover at Brgy. Mali-ao.
This, after Trimañez learned that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and contractor, International Builders Corp. (IBC), might change the design of the flyover, particularly its piers or foundations.
Trimañez said he received information from his own sources that the contractor has removed the steel sheet piling in one of the unfinished foundations.
Instead of concrete pilings and girders, the contractor will just use steel ones, a move that Trimañez said boggles him.
He added that his speech will focus on asking for clarification on the changes in design and materials amid the sinking piers of the Ungka flyover.
Trimañez’s observation is somehow validated by the statement of Francis George Gorriceta, executive assistant to Pavia Mayor Laurence Anthony Gorriceta, via Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo last week.
Gorriceta said he was informed by DPWH that the contractor will make changes to the design, particularly from concrete foundations to steel.
Trimañez has also called for a congressional investigation on the two flyovers late last year due to daily massive traffic jams in their town caused by the closure and slow work on the projects.
The two flyovers are pet projects of former senator Franklin Drilon.
The DPWH is also implementing two other flyover projects in Iloilo City, which Drilon also facilitated:
– the PHP520-million Buhang Flyover along the Iloilo Circumferential Road -1 crossing Iloilo-Capiz Road (new route) in Barangay Buhang in Jaro district; and
– the PHP591-million Jibao-an Flyover in Barangay Hibao-an in Mandurriao district.