N. Vizcaya tagged PH’s ‘bad roads capital’By Melvin Gascon
Inquirer Northern Luzon
Motorists passing through this Cagayan Valley province have expressed disgust over the poor condition of the national highway, prompting some of them to label Nueva Vizcaya as the “bad roads capital of the Philippines.”
They are also seeking an investigation of the alleged neglect and poor management by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) that led to frequent delays in travel caused by ongoing road repairs along Maharlika Highway here.
“I have been to many places in our country but I have not seen a national highway as bad as this and ongoing road projects as badly managed,” said rice trader Roderick Gamayon of Isabela.
“My fellow businessmen in Isabela have called Nueva Vizcaya the ‘bad roads capital of the Philippines’ because that is the truth,” he said.
On Sunday, traffic was again stalled for at least eight hours on the mountain road in Barangay Tactac in Sta. Fe town after an 18-wheel truck blocked a tight and steep bend on the single lane portion of the road, site of a DPWH road repair project.
Thousands of passengers who got stuck on the road were either coming home to Cagayan Valley or going to Metro Manila for the start of the workweek on Monday, said Senior Insp. Alexander Balut, Sta. Fe police chief.
“Among the most desperate set were OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) who were trying to catch their flight the next day, and families who were taking their sick relatives to Metro Manila for treatment,” he said.
While it took them nearly four hours to remove the stalled truck, policemen and workers spent the next four hours untangling and alternately letting through about 1,500 vehicles that had piled up from both directions.
“Everyone wanted to squeeze their vehicles through and occupied the opposite lane, blocking oncoming traffic. We had to confiscate the licenses of a number of undisciplined drivers,” Balut said.
The impact of the frequent delay here has been felt by vegetable traders at the Nueva Vizcaya Agricultural Terminal in Bambang town, who have suffered losses for failure to deliver their produce on time to buyers at Balintawak and Divisoria markets in Quezon City and Manila and in Urdaneta City.
“We are forced to sell our vegetable at half the original selling price because of the diminished freshness of the vegetables, caused by the delay of travel,” said trader Danilo Acosta.
For others, driving on the Nueva Vizcaya portion of Maharlika Highway is “like a nightmare.”
“Whenever my friends in Manila talk about their experiences in coming to Cagayan Valley, the one on the hours of delay is most unforgettable. Nueva Vizcaya has become synonymous with bad roads,” said Dennis Tan, a software specialist from Santiago City.
Except for road stretches with manageable defects and those that have been newly repaired, motorists passing through Nueva Vizcaya have to deal with highway conditions that are either “under repair” or “badly needing repair,” Tan said.
Commuters here have also been complaining about the condition of the asphalt-paved national highway in Barangay Bonfal Proper, which links this capital to Solano town.
“It has been widely noted that in Nueva Vizcaya, roads have a very short life span that what has been newly repaired may be needing rehabilitation again sometime soon,” said Ramil Urbano, a courier service driver and resident of San Isidro, Isabela.
‘Bear with us’
But the province’s DPWH officials dismissed the criticisms, saying the agency is doing its best to constantly improve national roads.
Ronald Reyes, chief of the province’s DPWH main district, said his office has laid out plans for repair work on portions of Maharlika Highway.
Road sections in Bayombong and Bambang towns, including the Bonfal section, would be re-done by the contractor at its own expense because the project is still under warranty.
Rodolfo Torralba Jr., chief of the Nueva Vizcaya DPWH sub-district, blamed overloaded cargo trucks and undisciplined drivers for perennial bottlenecks on the mountain road in Sta. Fe.
“Traffic jams are some of the inconveniences that the public must bear with us,” he said.