By Manly M. Ugalde
TABACO CITY --- A bridge widening project which has long been scheduled for implementation more than two years ago has finally been started.
Work for the 20-meter long San Ramon Bridge here begun middle part of January this year against its original December 6, 2016 start of work schedule based on the billboard at the project site posted by the Albay 1st District Engineering Office in Legazpi City.
A source at the DPWH regional office in Legazpi City, speaking his name be withheld for lack of authority to talk, disclosed that the much delayed bridge project which had a completion date of June 10, 2017 was among the causes of high slippage suffered by the Albay 1st District Engineering. The engineering district is reportedly over-load with project contracts allocated to favored contractors.
President Duterte has made it clear that a project is given only a maximum of 30-day extension to finish or else it has to be terminated.
Originally dubbed as the DPWH model district that boasts of zero pothole road network within it rea of jurisdiction, the Albay 1st District Engineering was stripped of its P2B budget under the 2018 General Appropriation Act in lieu of the strong oppositionist stance of Rep. Edcel Lagman against the Duterte administration.
The stripping of the district engineering budget immediately resulted to the non-rehiring of some 200 casual employees effective January 2018.
The Albay 1st district engineering used to enjoy heavy annual funding that made the first congressional district of Albay a model for excellent road network, enhanced by massive road and bridge construction and widening.
But motorists have begun assailing the DPWH because while four-lane bridges had been completed, some widened roads remained close to traffic because of uncleared road right of way, citing as an example the 300-meter distance before approaching San Fernando and Bonga Bridges
Former mayor for 20 years Jose Arcangel of Jovellar town questioned the DPWH poor logic of spending funds for bridge widening with problematic road right of way instead of investing it on the many road sections waiting to be widened.
Efforts to contact District Engineer Simon Arias proved unsuccessful as he was reportedly in Manila, which is more often than not.