In Camarines Sur: Where have all the good DPWH engineers and contractors gone?
Most of the major roads in Mindanao, Visayas, Palawan and in Northern Luzon could last for ten to fifteen years while maintain their original quality without showing any defects. These roads were foreign funded and constructed by foreign contractors.
On the other hand, the roads constructed by local contractors and supervised by DPWH, particularly in Camarines Sur, would show serious defects such as pot holes and cracks so much earlier.
These cracks are as wide as two centimeters and two to three meters long, like snakes spread all over on the road. They would start to appear one or two rainy seasons after construction completion.
When commuters start to complain regarding the inconveniences caused by these defects, DPWH would initiate application of asphalt overlay to remedy and hide these defects and at the same time appease the complaining commuters. After one or two rainy seasons potholes would start to appear on the asphalt overlay and commuters would complain again.
The deteriorated asphalt overlay would be scraped then another overlay would be applied again. This may be repeated several times until the concrete under has also deteriorated. Re-blocking and pouring of fresh concrete are done to remedy or repair the deteriorated concrete road.
Continuous heavy rain, increasing heavy traffic volume, excessive overloading of cargo trucks and soft soil are always the culprits that are causing the very short life of the roads, according to DPWH. This is very true because these roads are designed and constructed to deteriorate under these conditions, and not to withstand them.
The conditions under which these roads will be subjected to are all known; rain is perennial, heavy traffic volumes can be studied and anticipated, soil conditions can be investigated, they are no secrets. Roads may be designed for as long as the designer wants them to last and for as long as they are constructed according to the requirements of the design.
Road design and construction are no secret. DPWH just have to learn how to do it and the local contractors just have to learn how to construct according to the design. As to when they will learn, who knows?
Engr. Wenfredo Firme