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AN OPEN LETTER: On deteriorating condition of roads in CamSur

May I Express My Concern Regarding The General Conditions Of The Road That I Have Been Using For Quite A Long Time. Hopefully This Serves As A Wake-Up Call To Dpwh Of Camarines Sur District And Make The Department Realize That Its Performance In Building Infrastructure Projects Is Very Poor And Needs So Much Improvement. It Seems That There Has Not Been So Much Complain From The Commuting Public Despite Its (Dpwh’s) Poor Performance And That Makes Dpwh Believe That All Is Well.

For Almost Ten Years I Have Been A Frequent User Of The Highway Section Naga To Ragay: (Pan-Philippine Hwy - Naga To Sipocot Section, And Rolando R. Andaya Hwy - Sipocot To Ragay Section), Almost Once A Week. During This Time I Have Observed The Following:

A. Existing Condition Of The Road

1. Rampant Potholes And Pavement Cracks

Potholes Or Craters As Wide As One Meter And As Deep As 20 Cm And Cracks Are Rampant Particularly On The Sections Approaching The Sipocot - Libmanan Boundary, (The Bequito Area) And The Section Near Lupi - Ragay Boundary All The Way Up To Barangay Banga Caves. Even Newly Constructed Sections Have Potholes. These Potholes Are Very Unsafe, Hazardous To Small Vehicles, More So To Bikers Even At Low Speed Because They Are All Over And Seem To Appear So Sudden, Without Any Warning To Be Avoided.

2. Uneven Joints And Surfaces

Uneven Joints And Surfaces Are Common Where Newly Constructed Road Portion Terminates Or Abuts A Bridge Or An Existing Road Section. It Is The Responsibility Of The Road Contractors And Dpwh Inspectors To Ensure That Where New Construction Meets Old Existing Portion, The Elevations Should Be The Same. These Uneven Surfaces Are Detrimental To The Vehicles

3. Deep And Soft Shoulders

Deep Shoulders Are Very Common On Narrow Two-Lane Highways. Big Trucks With Wide Span Big Wheels Often Fall On The Soft Shoulders Causing That Shoulder To Deepen More. These Deep Shoulders Are Very Hazardous To Small Vehicles Particularly When It Is Raining At Night And The Road Edges Are Hardly Visible. These Narrow Highways Should Have Stable Shoulders To Provide Space During Emergencies And Temporary Stops.

4. Stagnant Water Ponds

Water Ponds Remain Stagnant On The Surface Of The Road During And Even After The Rain. This Poses Hazard To Cars Traveling At High Speed. It Is Also A Factor That Shortens The Life Of The Road.

B. Newly Widened Roads

Road Widening From Two-Lanes To Four-Lanes Is On-Going Almost Everywhere But Sad To Say That The Benefits Of A Four-Lane Road Cannot Yet Be Fully Enjoyed By Commuters Because:

1. Segmental Mode Of Construction

Road Widening Construction Is Not Continuous; When Segments Of Say Ten, Twenty, Or Fifty Meters Are Completed, They Are Left And Other Segments Are Started Leaving Gaps Between Completed Portions. Construction Is Unable To Progress Continuously Because Of The Existence Of Obstructions Such As; Structures That Could Not Be Demolished, Electrical Posts, Big Trees, Etc. Dpwh Allows Contractors To Start Without Definite Schedule Of Completion. This Segmental Mode Of Construction Is Detrimental To The Quality Of The Road.

2. Presence Of Pot Holes And Uneven Construction Joints

Pot Holes And Uneven Surfaces Are Common In Joints Between The Old And The New Constructions. Trying To Avoid These Holes And Uneven Surfaces Is Hazardous To Vehicles Traveling At High Speed. These Poor Qualities Of Construction Are Due To Lax Of Supervision On The Part Of Dpwh.

3. Newly Constructed Outer Lanes Are Used As Parking

Newly Completed Outer Lanes Are Being Used As Temporary Parking Spaces By Big Hauling Trucks Whose Drivers Are Taking Short Rest, Taking Their Meals Etc.

4. Presence Of Obstructions; Electric Posts, Barricades, Trees, Etc.

Obstructions On Completed Widened Road Such As Electric Posts And Barricades Are Left By Contractors Without Any Proper Warning Signs.

All These Defects Deprive The Commuting Public The Enjoyment Of The Benefits Of Four-Lane Highways.

C. On Going Construction; Widening Of Roads & Bridges

There Are Several Roads And Bridges Widening Construction Activities On-Going Along The Pan-Philippine Hwy And Rolando R. Andaya Hwy. In Most Of The Construction Sites Safety Of The Motorists Are Not Being Given So Much Importance:

1. There Are Not Enough Visible Signages, Warning Signs

Signages To Warn Motorists Are So Few And If Ever They Are Provided They Are Located Very Close To The Danger Zone, Not Giving Enough Time For Motorists To React To Safety.

2. Lack Of Effective & Proper Traffic Management

In Most Of The Hi-Way Construction Sites, Heavy Traffic Is Always The Problem Of The Commuters Because Of Ineffective, Poor Traffic Management; Where Long One-Way Traffic Is Required, No Green/Red Traffic Signal Lights Are Installed; Anybody, (Even Small Children) Is Allowed To Control Vehicle Movements By Waving Red Or Green Flags, Sometime Waving Red And Green Flags At The Same Time – Creating Confusions. Effective And Proper Traffic Management And Control Are Important Factors To Be Considered For Public Safety And Convenience.

D. Frequent Repairs – Very Abnormal

Those Who Have Long Been Using The Naga To Ragay Road Section Must Have Noticed The Very Frequent Repairs Being Done, Mostly On Asphalt Overlays And Even On Freshly Concreted Portions. These Frequent Repairs Are Attributed To Either Or Both Design And Construction Or Execution Issues.

1. Design Issues

It Is Worth Mentioning The Fact That Ten Or Fifteen Years Ago I Can Still Remember That The Thickness Of The Concrete Pavement Was About 30 Cm. The Volume Of Traffic And The Loads Now Are Very Much More Than What They Were Ten Or Fifteen Years Ago, And Yet The Thickness Of The Concrete Road Is Still Remain The Same, About 30 Cm. The Road Design Applicable Only Long Time Ago Is Still Being Applied Or Copied At Present. Dpwh Should Update And Upgrade The Road Design Based On The Present And Local Conditions Such As:

a) Increased Traffic And Loading Conditions – The Present Traffic And Loadings Are So More Than Fifteen Years Ago;

b) Local Conditions – Soil Conditions Should Be Investigated To Determine The Appropriate Soil Compaction And Sub-Base Materials And Thickness Required.

2. Construction Issues

The Integrity Of Any Construction Work Is Dependent On A) Compliance With Design And Specifications And B) Workmanship. These Frequent Repairs Are Due To Non-Adherence To The Requirements Of The Designs And Specifications And Poor Workmanship. All These Requirements And Guidelines Are Defined In Dpwh Standards But Are Not Being Seriously Implemented.

E. Suggestions

It Had Been The Practice Before That In Road Or Bridge Construction Sites Were Displayed In Very Visible Locations Billboards Containing Relevant Information About The Project Such As: Project Name, Scope Of Work, Quantities Of Major Material Such Vol Of Concrete, Tons Of Reinforcing Bars, Etc., Project Cost, Dates Of Start And Completion, Contractor’s Name, Etc. This Practice Should Be Maintained.

For More Public Appreciation May I Suggest That The Billboards Include The Following Information:

1. For New Bridges Including Bridge Widening, And New Roads Including Widening And Major Repairs, The Names Of The Engineers Who Designed (Who Signed And Sealed The Plans And Specifications) The Structure Should Be Identified. They Should Be Exposed And Be Ready To Justify Their Designs In Case Some Questions Arise.

2. For Repair Works More Information Should Be Included Such As:

a) Nature Of The Repair To Be Undertaken,

b) When Was The Section To Be Repaired Constructed,

B) Name Of The Contractor Who Did The Portion To Be Repaired,

3. Warranty Period – How Long Does The Contractor Guarantee Its Work.

Dpwh Is Very Much Aware Of These Very Poor Conditions Of The Roads In Cam Sur. Since There Has Not Been Any Vehement Complain From The Commuting Public Dpwh May Think That The Existing Road Conditions Under Its Responsibility Is Acceptable And Therefore Nothing To Worry About. It Is Therefore Very Important That Dpwh Is Made To Realize That The Commuting Public Is Very Much Dissatisfied With Its Performance.

Of Course, Dpwh Will Always Find A Way To Explain Its Failures Instead Of How To Improve Its Poor Performance. It Will Argue That The Continuous Rain Is Causing The Damage Of The Road, As If The Climate In Bikol Is Mysterious And Unpredictable. It Is A Given Fact That Almost Half Of The Year Is Rainy. The Roads Should Be Designed To Withstand This Type Of Climate Condition.

Hoping For The Much-Awaited Dpwh Improvement In Its Performance. Thank You.

Wenfredo A. Firme

A Concerned Citizen

Cc: Department Of Public Works And Highways



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