Holey question

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

We are now halfway into January 2023, But the questions that abound and beset the sinking P680-million Ungka flyover remain.

We have yet to hear a comprehensive explanation on why 3 of the 16 piers or foundations of these major infrastructure sank to the point that it had to be shut down after several weeks of being opened to motorists.

The latest update that we have is that the piers, which were erected using bored pile engineering, were buried more or less 30 meters. This came out of the meeting called by the infrastructure committee of the Regional Development Council-6 on Dec 19, 2022.

But some engineers told Daily Guardian that the ideal depth would have been 40 to 50 meters, citing historical data in the area and even sites several kilometers from the project site.

One engineer who has numerous projects in Pavia and Iloilo City claimed that the hard pan strata in these areas is indeed between 40 and 50 meters. A hard pan area is the layer of soil underneath the ground that is considered stable for structural foundations. It is different from the so-called point of refusal which can be considered the bed rock or layer where driven piles cannot anymore break or penetrate.

This engineer said it is impossible for the Department of Public Works and Highways regional and central offices and contractor International Builders Corp to miss this data point given the numerous developments and buildings in the area. There are also bridges around the project site which could have been the basis for the design.

Let’s admit for the sake of argument that the DPWH central office’s Bureau of Design drew the wrong design and plans for the piers, the regional office and IBC itself could have objected, corrected, or whatever as they are also familiar with the geology of Pavia and Iloilo City.

DPWH must now reveal the results of the initial studies and tests which became the bases for the required depth that the piers must be buried in if only to clear the air of rancid suspicions.

One suspicion tickling our minds is that the design was meant for the steel-type flyover like the one in front of UPV Iloilo City, not the concrete type. Steel is lighter than concrete, and cheaper too. But this is just a suspicion.

Not a few observers in both mainstream and social media allude that this fiasco is either a product of negligence or incompetence; that somehow, someone either did not know what they were doing or turned a blind eye to glaring oversights in the project. I will be the happiest person alive if these claims are proven untrue.


Unless and until concerned agencies and entities come clean on the flyover, expect more suspicions, harsh comments, and hilarious social media memes to emerge in all media and platforms.


Meanwhile, the Ungka flyover projects seems to have affected three other similar projects in Aganan, Pavia; Hibao-an, Mandurriao; and Buhang, Jaro.

We can only hope that the slowdown is due to the recent holidays (although we know that public infrastructure projects must keep to their schedules) and not because of the sinking Ungka flyover.

The DPWH regional office should now inform the public, nay taxpayers, if the contractors of these projects are on schedule or if they have suffered slippages or delays which could be a ground for fines or even termination of their contracts.

The problem in asking these data is that information on public-funded projects is considered personal data of contractors and DPWH itself. So please don’t blame us if taxpayers raise suspicions on how you spend our hard-earned money.

You are the ones who cause your own malady and sufferings.