Luzon construction cost may rise as Pinatubo sand price triples
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Philippines — The price of sand from Mt. Pinatubo has tripled and was expected to cause a jump in the construction cost in Luzon after quarry haulers in Pampanga province decided on the increase to cover for the sharp rise in transport expenses.
Unfiltered sand now costs P1,500 per cubic meter (cu. m) in Luzon, mostly bound for the construction market in Metro Manila, as of Aug. 19 from the previous price of P550 per cu. m due to hauling trucks’ load reduction and longer shipment routes, on top of the recent oil price increases, according to Lennard Lansang, president of Porac Haulers and Truckers Association based in Porac town of Pampanga.
The price increase has been met with complaints but was necessary to make up mainly for the load reduction, he explained in an interview on Friday.
From carrying 22 cu. m to 30 cu. m, a 10-wheeler truck would only be allowed to load up to 14 cu. m to comply with the 33-ton weight limit imposed by North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) Corp. since Aug. 2, due to the ongoing repairs at the almost 50-year-old Candaba Viaduct of the expressway. The repair would last until 2024.
Bigger vehicles with higher loads take other routes in Pampanga, Bulacan, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija provinces, entailing more labor and fuel expenses.
Pampanga Gov. Dennis Pineda on Aug. 2 imposed a 15-day suspension of quarry operation to give haulers time to cut the sidings of their trucks to conform with the gross vehicle weight required under Republic Act No. 8794 or the Anti-Overloading Act of 2000.
The province lost P50 million in revenues during the suspension.
During Pineda’s first term, Capitol earned P2.1 billion from tax, fees, and other charges for the quarrying of the millions of tons of sand made out of volcanic ash and pumice deposited in the province after Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption in June 1991.
On Friday, NLEx Corp. permitted entry to the first 200 trucks that were issued new hauling passes by the Pampanga provincial government. The passes indicated compliance to load limit, allowing trucks to skip the NLEx weighing bridge and avoid delays in delivery, the governor said.
At least 519 trucks have been trimmed of sidings and 1,789 others were due for measuring, according to Eduardo de Guzman, director of the Land Transportation Office in Central Luzon.
Around 7,000 vehicles had been previously accredited to haul sand and gravel from the province, according to Romeo Dungca, head of Kapampangan a Lulugud at Matapat or Kalam, a provincial quarry regulatory unit.
“So the measuring of sidings and cutting are continuous until each vehicle got a new hauling pass,” Dungca said.
Pineda has said that only truck owners with new hauling passes could buy sand or gravel in quarry sites.
The governor said talks with local officials were ongoing to enforce the Anti-Overloading Law to prevent the further deterioration of national, provincial and local roads and bridges in the routes skipping NLEx.
Traffic in Bulacan
For 12-wheelers and up, NLEx was continuously coordinating with trucking companies and organizations to address their concerns, said NLEx Corp. president and general manager J. Luigi Bautista in a statement on Friday.
Meanwhile, trucks overloaded with quarry minerals bound for Metro Manila and other areas in Luzon that bypassed NLEx swamped Maharlika Highway, clogging the south lane portions of the road connecting the towns of Gapan in Nueva Ecija and San Miguel in Bulacan.
The trucks, which came from quarry sites in Pampanga, Tarlac, and Zambales, and private vehicles were caught up in a two-hour traffic gridlock at the highway on Friday.
The damage to Bulacan’s road by heavy trucks had prompted Rep. Ambrosio Cruz Jr. of the fifth district to file last week House Bill No. 2949, which would increase the penalty for overloaded trucks to up to P150,000.
—WITH A REPORT FROM CARMELA REYES-ESTROPE
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