Of excess funds and ampao roads

the-agora1

Who wants to walk or drive on ampao road? “Of course no one,” is the answer. But wait. What is an ampao road? It is the term I heard people use when referring to a concrete paved road that sheds its smooth surface and reveal the stone aggregates at the base after only one year from its completion. In other words, it is a substandard road constructed under the supervision of either the DPWH, the City Engineers’, Office, the Provincial Engineer’s Office or the Municipal Engineer’s Office. In short, ampaoroad is one of the products of a corrupt culture and system that has outlived many politicians and administrations who tried to do something to correct it.

Let’s hope the incoming Duterte administration will have enough teeth and political will in its arsenal of governance to finally put an end to this.

Why do I want to discuss this topic on ampao road? Some issues back I wrote something about the road repairs and reblocking projects of the DPWH on portions of the national roads that criss-crossed Bohol Island. I questioned the fact that most of those road repair work and road blocking were on portions that were still perfectly good and could last for 10 years. For those with some cracks presumably as a result of the Magnitude 7.2 earthquake of 2013, a good 203 inches of asphalt overlay would make vehicle travel smooth and safe and the least expense on the part of government. But that there was an apparent haste to do the repairs and reblockingat atime when election was about three months away, we already suspected it must have been part of the strategy to raise election fund.

Now here comes this complete replacement of ampao road beginning from crossing airport road to the Wisdom School of the national highway in Tagbilaran City. Despite the protruding crushed rocks on the surface of the kilometre-long section of the highway, it did not pose any hazard or danger to motorists and civilians driving or walking on that section of the highway. Again 2-3 inches of asphalt overlay would have restored the road to its A-1 conditionand at the same time hide the evidence of ampaoconstruction.

But DPWH must be oozing with surplus fundsit had to be expended before the new administration takes over and changes the rule on project prioritization.

DPWH has forgotten that in two weeks’ time classes will start again and unless the contractor company has supermen for its workers, that road construction work will create a traffic problem Tagbilaran City has never experienced. Even when there was no construction work going on, that section of the national highway was a nightmare to pass for those in a hurry from 6:30 to 8:00 in the morning and from 4:00 to 6:00 in the afternoon.

Now let DPWH tell us how it is going to remedy the situation except by completing the project and making it passable by June 13, 2016. Right now the project appears less than 50% complete. Not even Duterte’s magic wand or punishment stick can make the difference.

It is not enough to post road signs of “Sorry for the Inconvenience.” The public will know when this is truly called for or when it is a show of incompetence and insensitiveness. How else will the people feel about the fact that despite surplus in road funds, there are barangay roads that have remained dilapidated and unpassable. Is it because barangay roads are used by the Juan de la Cruzes whilenational roads are used by those in the high places of society who contribute to the campaign kitties during elections?

Why can’t national government allocatethe excess funds for opening and rehabilitating more barangay roads which truly help in giving access to services by the poor? The lackof truly pro-poor programs must be what dealt Mar Roxas his defeat in the last elections. More than 16 million Filipino voters saw in Duterte the song that they want to sing no matter if the singer was out of tune.

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