By John Noel E. Herrera
The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) will allow residents to pass through the automated gate of the Moroboro Irrigation Dam as the Monfort Bridge in Dingle, Iloilo remains unpassable and still under repair.
This, after the barangay captains requested NIA to open the gate from 5 a.m. to 8 am. and 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. as the slow reconstruction of the bridge already caused inconvenience to the residents, especially students, who are dependent on the bridge for their daily transportation.
“Syempre kita man nila ang sitwasyon kag napalab-ot nila so they are also considering allowing, basta sa amu lang na nga time,” Iloilo 4th District board member Rolando Distura said in an interview.
He added that residents could pass the bridge starting this week and NIA requested the continuous support of the concerned barangays in watching after their residents.
“Naga-ayó sila nga kung pwede padayunon ang suporta sang barangay kag banwa nga mabutang gid dira sang mga tao nga magfacilitate sang paglakat sang mga tao and ma-avoid ang accidents kag kung may katigulangan da gaagi, mabuligan man nila matabok” Distura said.
While NIA has already allowed opening its gate, Dingle, Iloilo Vice Mayor Quindialem Villanueva, on the other hand, said residents were still making additional bamboo rafts (balsa) for them to cross the river faster.
Villanueva also revealed that when the Monfort bridge was damaged in 2022, they asked for assistance from Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. for the repair of the Moroboro hanging bridge to at least serve as a temporary passage.
But even the construction of the said hanging bridge is also delayed and the commuters still opted to use bamboo rafts in crossing the river, according to Villanueva.
Meanwhile, Iloilo 4th district Rep. Ferjenel Biron urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the contractor of Monfort Bridge (A.D. Pendon Construction) to hasten the repair of the structure.
“It is crucial for the authorities to take prompt action to address the situation of the Monfort Bridge and provide better transportation options for the residents. The repair of the bridge will not only benefit the commuters but also have a positive impact on the local economy. Therefore, it is imperative for the authorities to prioritize the repair of the Monfort Bridge and take necessary actions to resolve the situation promptly,” Biron said.
Right after typhoon Agaton hit in 2022, which damaged the bridge, Biron facilitated the allocation of funds for the repair of the structure. The initial funding from the DPWH was P57.020 million but it was revised to P57.89 million.
With the revision in the budget, the contract duration was also changed from 205 calendar days to 234 days. The contract, which was awarded to A.D. Pendon Construction and Supply, Inc., took effect on Sept 28, 2022 and will expire on May 19, 2023.
But weather concerns and other factors affected the timetable, which was stretched to July 18, 2023.
Based on the contractual date from DPWH, the project suffered a -21.62% slippage after A.D. Pendon only accomplished 29.86% against the 51.48% target accomplishment.
The delays in the construction of the bridge and pictures of the struggle of the residents to cross the river recently circulated online, which also caught the attention of the national media as it was featured on the GMA public affairs show Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho.