Why take years to make 720 meters of road? – Davao City residents
DAVAO CITY, Davao del Sur, Philippines — Residents of Veloso Street in Barrio Obrero here are asking why it is taking the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) years to construct less than a kilometer stretch of road and drainage between Dacudao Street and Victoria Plaza along J.P. Laurel Street here.
Civil works on the 720-meter stretch of road that links Dacudao Street to Victoria Plaza started as early as 2019, but the project remained unfinished until now, residents Roger Teves and Louis Gonzales told the Inquirer in an interview.
A significant part of the project had been left unattended for long stretches of time and grass had started sprouting from the abandoned diggings, said Teves, who initiated a complaint that residents filed at the city mayor’s office on the long-delayed project.
It turned out, however, that four contractors — not one — were involved in the short stretch of road, DPWH spokesperson Dean Ortiz revealed.
One contractor was involved in the P60 million drainage and road construction along one lane of the entire stretch of road, while three contractors shared the works on the opposite, wider lane.
Among the four contractors, two were able to finish their work — the contractor of the first lane that covered the entire stretch of the road and the first of the three contractors on the second lane.
Residents were not complaining about the first two contractors who already finished work in March and December last year.
They were complaining against the third contractor, whose workers, they claimed, always made a show of reporting on-site in the morning only to mysteriously disappear towards noontime and were rarely seen at the later part of the day, resulting in the delay of the project, Teves told the Inquirer.
Gonzales said that the delays and the abandoned construction work had caused losses in his car wash and car tinting business.
Seeking the mayor’s help
In August this year, at least 30 residents signed a letter of complaint addressed to Mayor Sebastian Duterte, asking the mayor’s help to prompt the contractor to speed up the project because of the inconvenience it had been causing.
Following an onsite inspection on Sept. 7, the City Engineers’ Office noted that the road and drainage project did not have signage indicating its timetable and the contractors involved, a requirement of the Commission on Audit (COA) and a subject of the DPWH Order No. 37 Series of 2010.
On Sept. 9, Sheila Mae Apusen submitted an inspection report to the City Engineers officer-in-charge, lawyer Joseph Dominic Felizarta. In that report, she identified the project contractor as Rakki Corp. and she noted the absence of the required billboard in the area.
Teves said they were at a loss where to turn to for help regarding the long-delayed project since the absence of the signage made them feel blind to what was going on.
Fear of flooding
The subject of their complaint, however, was only one lane of the 195-meter stretch of road from Nicasio to Cervantes Streets, which Ortiz said, had been awarded partly to Rakki Corp., whose main project site had been along J.P. Laurel Street.
Ortiz said Rakki’s stretch of the project started in May and was scheduled to be completed in November this year but had encountered road right-of-way problems.
He explained that the 195-meter stretch of road along Veloso Street was only the second site of Rakki’s P100-million contract.
“It’s possible that the signage was not on Veloso Street but in [Rakki’s] main project on J.P. Laurel,” Ortiz said about the lack of signage.
He said that Rakki’s part of the project was almost complete – except for the remaining 10-meter stretch.
Worried by the onset of heavy rains that could bring about the worst flooding in the flood-prone Barrio Obrero area, residents have been agitating for the road construction to be finished on time.
Both Gonzales and Teves observed that the contractor could fast-track the project if it wanted to.
Social media exposure
Earlier in November, store owner Johnsan Palomares Temple, fearing that his storefront would cave in after workers started digging underneath without installing enough support structures, posted his complaints against the digging on his social media account, which immediately went viral.
Barely 10 days after he posted the video, the construction of at least four box culverts in front of his store went in earnest and it was finished in two weeks.
“If they can finish an estimated 40.3-meter stretch of road in two weeks, and move on to the next, they can easily finish their part in two months,” Teves said.
But a holiday request from the nearby Abreeza Mall prompted the DPWH to extend the deadline for the completion of the 195-meter stretch of road to February this year, according to Teves.
He said the mall requested to temporarily halt the project for the holiday season since the road, which crosses Veloso Street, also serves as an alternate route for vehicles from and to the malls.
Yet, even if Rakki Corp. could finally complete its stretch on its extended deadline in February, the third and final stretch of the second lane could still be a problem.
According to Ortiz, the DPWH had already finished the plan and project costing for the final stretch, but he still had to check if it had been allocated funds in the 2023 budget.
Meanwhile, residents are at a loss as to who they can ask for help on the project.
According to Teves, representatives of Rakki told residents during the Oct. 4 dialog at the barangay hall that they would finish the project by November. But they were never told about the deadline extension.