Boracay road expansion rushed to meet island’s reopening in October
ILOILO CITY — Amid tight schedule, the road expansion project on Boracay Island has been slowed down by remaining structures along the road easement and the disbursement of funds from the national government.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in the Western Visayas region said its personnel would work even at night if necessary to meet the target reopening of the island to tourists in October.
“We are committed to meet the target as directed by (Public Works) Secretary (Mark) Villar,” engineer Al Fruto, DPWH regional assistant director, told the Inquirer on Monday.
Fruto said the DPWH Western Visayas office was waiting for authority from its central office to use the P490-million fund from the Department of Budget Management and to bid for the road construction from the Cagban port to the Balabag Plaza covering 4.2 kilometers.
The DPWH has requested P620 million to cover the road construction covering 5.26 km up to Barangay Yapak in Boracay.
The project is one of the key features of the six-month rehabilitation of the island which began on April 26 when the island was closed down to tourists. It is aimed at addressing traffic congestion along the main road due to the continued increase in vehicles and a narrow two-lane road.
The initial plan for the new road includes a 6.10-meter carriageway, space for sidewalk and pedestrian lanes, and improved drainage and sewage system.
More than 500 structures along the main road are affected by road widening with most residential and business owners opting to demolish portions of their properties encroaching on the 12-meter road easement.
Fruto said the P490-million fund had been released to the DPWH Aklan district office, but it could not use this and start the bidding process because the project cost needed approval from its central office.
Under DPWH rules, district offices are allowed to bid for and implement projects of up to P100 million. The limit for the regional office is P300 million.
“We cannot shortcut government policies and processes but we are acting with dispatch as Secretary Villar has visited the island thrice already to oversee the operations,” Fruto said.
Several residents of Boracay have raised concerns on the progress of the road expansion as the DPWH and its equipment are less visible in recent weeks.
Fruto said 180 personnel, including heavy equipment operators coming from district offices in the region, had been sent to the island. But he said some of the personnel were temporarily pulled out due to work in other areas.
He also appealed to property owners to demolish their structures within the 12-meter road easement.
“There are about 50 structures on the second and upper floors of about 50 buildings because only the ground floor was cleared. There is no [total vertical clearance] and this might obstruct our equipment and in the relocation of electric poles,” Fruto said.
The Aklan Electric Cooperative has requested a P94-million assistance from the national government for the relocation of 471 electric poles on the island that will be affected by the road widening.
Fruto said new poles were needed before the distribution lines could be transferred prior to the start of the road construction. —Nestor Burgos Jr.
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