Poe asks gov’t to reconsider closure of Estrella-Pantaleon bridge
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Grace Poe on Friday asked the government to reconsider the impending 30-month closure and rehabilitation of the “perfectly working” Estrella-Pantaleon bridge, which connects the cities of Makati and Mandaluyong.
Citing motorists’ complaints, Poe said transport officials have “no effective traffic mitigation plan” during the 30 months that the P1.3-billion bridge will be constructed by a Chinese contractor.
Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services, also questioned the participation of the Chinese firm banned by the World Bank for fraudulent practices in the rehabilitation of the bridge.
“This is a case of a bridge we may not need, whose construction will inconvenience many for a long time, and is being built by a company who, after being banned by the World Bank for bungling a road project here, became part of the massive land reclamation in the West Philippine Sea,” Poe said in a statement.
China Communications and Construction Corp., the project’s contractor, “was also banned by the World Bank in 2009 for anomalies related to several multi-billion-peso Philippine road projects it had funded,” the senator noted.
Poe made the call after the Metropolitan Development Authority (MMDA) announced that it will push through with the closure of the bridge starting Jan. 19 despite motorists’ complaints and opposition.
“It appears that we were lured into accepting this gift without asking ourselves if we need it and if the inconveniences it would cause are worth it. It appears that there was no independent cost-benefit analysis done,” Poe said.
“Hindi naman po tayo anti-development. Ang gusto lang natin maayos at hindi makakasama sa atin. ‘Yung hindi donor-driven, may people’s consultation, at sapat ang feasibility study,” she added.
(We are not anti-development. We just want to this the right way so it will not inconvenience all of us. It shouldn’t be donor-driven, and there must be people’s consultation and feasibility study.)
Poe also said that transport officials must respond to the observation shared by many groups that the advantages of a four-lane bridge will be canceled out when both ends lead to two-lane roads.
“Will this not just create a bottleneck?” Poe asked.
“If the roads will not be widened then why replace a relatively new bridge with one that is four times its price?” Poe said, comparing the P300 million cost of the present bridge with the reported P1.3 billion price tag of the one that China will build.
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