Asphalt+water =PotholesBy Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Of course, you already know why potholes on the roads have been making your daily commute like a ride on the moon since last week’s monsoon rains and floods.
But just to make sure what you know is not a pre-2010 barber shop story, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is offering an explanation.
Essentially, the DPWH’s explanation is an oil-and-water story, but Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson drew it from scientific observation of roads that were inundated for three to four days during the flooding in Metro Manila last week.
“We noticed some potholes in portions that were really submerged for a long period,” Singson said at a briefing for reporters in Malacañang on Monday.
Water ruins asphalt
“The enemy of asphalt is water,” Singson said. “So if there is no efficient drainage—again, we go back to the flooding (problem)—that aggravates the quality of our roads. So when the roads are submerged in floodwaters, the asphalt [overlay doesn’t] last.”
The DPWH has figured it has “27,000 cubic meters of potholes” to deal with, referring to the amount of asphalt it needs to fill the holes on major roads in the metropolis that slow down traffic and damage motor vehicles.
Done in two weeks
As of Monday morning, Singson said, the DPWH has covered 7,000 cm, or “about a little over 24 percent.”
“[W]eather permitting, we [are] committed to finish in two weeks,” he said.
Corruption is supposed to have been stamped out in the DPWH so suggestions that substandard asphalt is used for road repairs to skim off kickbacks from the budget are out of the question.
On Sunday, Malacañang rejected calls for an investigation, pointing out that the DPWH is not in charge of the maintenance of all roads.
“[The] DPWH is in charge of the repair and maintenance of national roads, while cities are in charge of municipal roads,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview on state-run Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday.
Valte had no comment on the liability of private utilities and government agencies that dig up roads to develop projects but do not restore the roads to their original state after their work is done.
But she referred the public to the online campaign launched last Friday by Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO), “#lubak2normal project.”
The drive asks Twitter subscribers to report the location of potholes so that the DPWH can find and repair them.
“We welcome reports of potholes on national roads from citizens so we can forward [these] to [the] DPWH,” Valte said, adding that the PCDSPO campaign is coordinated with the public works department.
Singson said the DPWH had conducted a technical assessment of the state of the road system, especially in Metro Manila. He said roads used by heavy vehicles were the most damaged.
“[I]t looks like asphalt on those roads is not going to work,” Singson said. “So we’re thinking of upgrading our specifications and use reinforced concrete on [those roads].”