‘Sinking’ Iloilo flyover: Who’s to blame?
ILOILO CITY —The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is not about to point fingers on who should be held accountable for the sinking of the newly built, four-lane flyover that cost taxpayers P680 million.
The DPWH would rather focus its energy on fixing the flyover that might cost at least P200 million.
DPWH Undersecretary Roberto Bernardo said the 453.7-meter Ungka flyover, which straddles Jaro district in Iloilo City and the neighboring town of Pavia, was done by project contractor International Builders Corporation (IBC) in accordance to the specifications set by the DPWH central office’s Bureau of Design.
“Who’s at fault here? We could not determine who because we followed everything in the plan. I have nothing to tell you (about who should be blamed),” he said in a recent interview.
“We cannot explain what happened. All we can do now is to give solutions to the problem,” he added.
The flyover was built to cut travel time to the Iloilo International Airport in Cabatuan town. It was funded through the efforts of former Senator Franklin Drilon, a native of Iloilo.
It partially opened to the public on June 30 last year and was fully opened on Sept. 6, 2022.
The DPWH, however, was forced to close down the flyover on Sept. 18 – 12 days after it fully opened – after motorists complained about the “wavy feel” while driving on it, and amid reports and images of pools of water at the top of the flyover during rainy days.
Iloilo City Councilor Plaridel Nava vowed to file criminal and administrative charges against officials of DPWH in Western Visayas and IBC for violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and gross neglect of duty.
In an earlier interview over Aksyon Radyo Iloilo, Nava said those responsible for the defects found on the flyover should be held liable.
“Someone has to start asking who should be held accountable for this mess. I call on cause-oriented groups, civil society, and the religious sector to hold a condemnation rally in relation to the broad daylight robbery in building that flyover,” he said.
Nava said people’s money was wasted because of the defective flyover.
Structural engineer Adam Abinales, head of the third-party consultant hired by the DPWH, said at least P250 million would be needed to repair the flyover.
Fixing the structure, he said, would take at least 10 months.
Abinales, the managing partner of the Pasig-based Abinales Associates Engineers + Consultants, said piers 4, 5, and 6 of the flyover’s 16 piers sank by more than a foot between May 2022 and April 14, 2023.
Pier 5 sank by 22.9 inches, Pier 6 by 19.21 inches, and Pier 4 by 16 inches.
The other piers also plunged by 0.66 inches to 5.94 inches.
Abinales presented his findings during a meeting of the Regional Development Council’s Infrastructure Development Committee (RDC-IDC) last May 15.
Borehole testing conducted by Abinales’ firm showed that soil under piers 4, 5, and 6 was liquefiable and susceptible to sinking.
A pier is a type of structure that extends to the ground below or into the water. It is used to support the flyover and transfer the loads to the foundation.
Abinales said engineering interventions should be done to rectify the Ungka flyover.
Undersecretary Bernardo said there doesn’t seem to be available funds from the 2023 national budget to fix the flyover.
He said additional works on the flyover may set to start by early 2024 and reopen for public use in time for the Dinagyang Festival in January 2025.