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District engineers warned anew over road obstructions

By Manuel T. Ugalde LEGAZPI CITY --- District engineers in Bicol have been given strong warning once again to address the problem of pestering road obstructions that pose as serious threats to lives and limbs of motorists even as the Department of Public Works and Highways is continuously undertaking its road widening projects all over the region. This came as the PNP regional command based in this city reported a series of major vehicular accidents that took place in the province a few days ago. Such incidents include six persons mowed down by a 10--wheeler truck when it skidded through the opposite lane and hit head-on a motorcycle killing the latter’s passengers, including a 3-year old boy along the Sabloyon-Tabaco road. The truck driver and two bystanders were also killed, while five others were seriously wounded. Albay provincial board member Ramon Alsua tagged as road hazards the obstructions left unattended along primary and secondary national roads due to sheer neglect of local and national authorities. He cited, among others, the cockpit arenas located along major roads where unusual volume of parked vehicles of cockfighting aficionados by the roadside virtually reduce to barely two-lane highway, despite their being widened into 4-lanes. Such scenario, whose parked vehicles stretch to as much as 200 meters, takes place for more than 5 times a week when cockfight derbies are held regularly. Alsua said he had filed a resolution more than 12 years ago to keep roads cleared from obstructions, but such measure until now has remained unacted upon, he said. Citing the roads as “more dangerous during sunny days than its usual danger posed when slippery and wet,” motorists said the roads have become dumping grounds for junks and unserviceable vehicles. Even worse is when farmers and rice merchants indiscriminately use the road surface for solar drying their palay and corn and keeping them contained by placing large stones or rocks on the edges to secure them from being strewn away, making the situation even more dangerous for motoristswho may run into these rocks. Former Vice Governor James Calisin pointed out thatTabaco City has more than 7,000 units of padyaks that have long invaded the highways in that district. Ironically, Tabaco City had applied with the Guinness Book of World Records in 2007 as the Padyak Capital but failed to covet such absurd title. Calisin said some 20 kilometers of the highway that span the towns of Malilipot– Tabaco City–Malinao-Tiwi has long been invaded by padyaks operators, many of whom include male minors, which is against the law on child labor and abuse. Newly appointed DPW Regional Director Danilo Verzola said he would direct his 16 district engineers to start coordinating with the local government units in complying with a Department Order that seeks to remove all forms of traffic obstructions and set up appropriate traffic signs that must be clear and visible. Versola pointed out that while motorized tricyles are banned in the highways, it becomes even more urgent for food-driven vehicles to be kept out of the highway that are designed for fast-moving vehicles.

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