ROAD MESS

C. Valley motorists blast DPWH for road gridlocks

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–Residents of Cagayan Valley and nearby provinces on Friday assailed the alleged incompetence of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for failure to address the traffic congestion problems in many of its road projects along the national highway.

They complained how DPWH year-round road repairs along the Daang Maharlika, from Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela and Cagayan have supposedly caused trouble to the traveling public, made worse by the delays and mismanagement of vehicular traffic.

Things came to a head when, for the past three days, thousands of motorists were being stuck on the road for as long as 10 hours due to a road reblocking project in Cordon town in Isabela.

“The government’s failure to address this simple problem very well represents the dysfunction that is plaguing our country. This is criminal negligence,” said Rustico Babaran, Jr., a bank employee from Cagayan.

IMG_20150527_071057_Snapseed
Hundreds of vehicle are stuck on the road near the Nueva Vizcaya-Isabela border, due to a trailer truck that conked out at a single-lane portion of a road-reblocking work in Barangay Caquilingan in Cordon. Photo by Melvin Gascon

Many of the affected travelers vented their ire on the DPWH and its contractor, with businessmen describing how they suffered economic losses and others missing important events.

The stretch of the national road in Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya and Cordon, Isabela is the only arterial road that links the northern provinces of Cagayan Valley to the rest of Luzon, mainly used in the transport of rice, corn and other agricultural products supplied to Central Luzon and Metro Manila.

Members of the Paginag family, who were on their way to Vigan City on Thursday missed the burial of the grandmother because of the delay in Cordon.

Truck driver Danilo Pajarillo, who failed to deliver his cargo in Santiago City on time, said he will incur penalties charged against his salary on the next payday. Overseas worker Roldan Abungan, who was bound for South Korea on Friday, also missed his flight.

“Elections are near, so we see all these road repairs. They are again raising campaign money at our expense,” Abungan said, referring to popular notion that public works projects were cash cows for corrupt politicians.

The queues of hundreds of stranded trucks, buses, cars often stretched for as long as 10 km, as vehicles battled for positions and occupied every space on the road, even blocking opposite lanes.

Records show that the Cordon road repair is part of a P35.3 million Daang Maharlika rehabilitation project being implemented by the Isabela 4th district and contracted by EBC Builders Construction, Inc.

Motorists also criticized how DPWH projects in Cordon and Santiago City, as well as the heavy equipment used there, displayed the name of Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao (Isabela 4th district), in supposed violation of a circular that prohibits names of politicians on public works projects.

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Signage of a road widening project in Barangay Malapat in Cordon , Isabela displays the name of an Isabela lawmaker, despite a memorandum circular that prohibits the placing of politicians’ names on government projects. Photo by Melvin Gascon

Ongoing reblocking and widening activities along the national highway in Santa Fe, Bayombong, Bagabag and Diadi towns in Nueva Vizcaya have also been the perennial source of complaints due to traffic snarl-up.

Sought for comment, Nerie Bueno, DPWH acting director for Cagayan Valley, appealed for understanding from the riding public, saying her agency is doing its best to ease the inconvenience caused by the road projects.

“The public outrage is understandable because being stuck on the road for 10 hours is really too much. This is why I have been constantly reminding our district personnel to do everything they can not to let things like these happen in the future,” she said in a phone interview on Friday.

However, the gridlocks were not caused by DPWH road works alone, Bueno said, but often by vehicles figuring in accidents or suffering mechanical breakdown, commonly involving heavily loaded trailer trucks as they negotiate the tight turns and single-lane roads at project sites.

The situation is made worse by the lack of discipline among many drivers by refusing to obey flagmen and going against the opposing flow of traffic, causing it get tangled,” she said.

“We are seeking the help of other agencies because the DPWH alone cannot effectively manage traffic congestion at road construction sites. We need to have good coordination with (the police and local governments), as well,” she said.

Bueno said she has already “called the attention” of Bernardo Moreno, chief of the DPWH Isabela 4th district, on the name of Congressman Aggabao that is shown on their road projects.

As of Saturday, however, the signs have not been removed.#

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