Unfinished bridge leads to unfinished road in Zambo

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PUBLIC Works Undersecretary Romeo Momo (right) during an inspection of the unfinished, pork-funded bridge in Barangay Putik, Zamboanga City. JULIE S. ALIPALA/INQUIRER MINDANAO

ZAMBOANGA CITY—The unfinished bridge in a village here that was funded by pork barrel but abandoned by its contractor four years after construction started is connected to a network of roads that is also unfinished.

Not to worry, according to public works officials. The roads would be built after the bridge, which sits unfinished in Barangay (village) Putik, is completed, they said.

Ranking public works officials inspected the bridge on Wednesday after the Inquirer published a picture of it.

“We were bothered by the published picture and we really wanted to see this for inspection and to determine why it is not yet completed,” said Public Works Undersecretary Romeo Momo.

At least P10 million of public funds went through the pork barrel of former Rep. Erico Basilio Fabian (second district, Zamboanga City) to finance the unfinished bridge.

According to Momo, he went to the site of the bridge also to find out if “there’s still available funding and why it was not completed.”

According to Momo, quoting the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) district engineers, the bridge had not been completed because of the delay in the transfer of deeds that would allow workers on the project to proceed with using land that the bridge project would cover.

A 48-square-meter property was all that stood in the way of the bridge completion, said Momo. He said he had asked district engineers to iron out the problem with the help of village and city officials.

But Jerry Perez, chair of Barangay Putik where the bridge is being built, said the DPWH district engineering office failed to coordinate with his office about the transfer of deed for the 48-square-meter property that stood in the way of the bridge.

“We have secured the deed of donation. It’s ready. They (DPWH) failed to consult with the villagers and they occupied some pieces of private property and refused to remunerate the affected families,” Perez said.

Momo also said he discovered that the P10-million bridge was built in the interior portion of Barangay Putik where the road network has not been completed.

Engineer Merham Acas, the city’s former DPWH chief, said the plan was to “put up a bridge first, then the roads will follow.”

Acas said he was sure that funds for the bridge, coming from the pork of former Rep. Fabian, are still “intact.”

“We cannot put up the approaches because of the issues of right of way and transfer of deed of donation,” Acas said. Julie S. Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao

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