Iloilo execs slam DPWH6’s ‘unresponsiveness’ over flyover

At least three foundations of the P680-million Ungka flyover have sunk just three months after it was opened to the public.

At least three foundations of the P680-million Ungka flyover have sunk just three months after it was opened to the public. PHOTO COURTESY OF AJ PALCULLO/PANAY NEWS

ILOILO CITY — Iloilo City and provincial officials expressed disgust over the failure of the Department of Public Works and Highways in Western Visayas (DPWH-6) to provide them with updates about two controversial flyovers.

Councilor Jose Ma. Trimañez, chairperson of Pavia’s town transportation committee, said the DPWH-6 had not given them updates on the P680-million Ungka flyover in Iloilo City and the P802-million Aganan flyover in Pavia town.

He said the incomplete structures had become “burdensome” to the public.

The town’s council had passed a resolution urging the DPWH regional office to provide them with a copy of the test results done on the Aganan flyover.

READ: DPWH halts another Iloilo flyover project

Trimañez said they wanted to know when the project would be finished, and if the contractor, International Builders Corporation, had been paying liquidated damages according to their contract, among other questions on transparency.

“If we base their statements in the past, they don’t match [with the current situation]. There has been no update, and many have been burdened and affected, including students and local businesses, he said in a phone interview on Monday, April 15.

“We’re trying our best here in Pavia to promote our place as one of the most liveable, but because of these two giant [flyovers] that remained pending, the image of our town is being affected despite all of the efforts we are doing,” he added.

DPWH-6 Regional Director Sanny Boy Oropel, in a phone interview with the Inquirer on Tuesday, dismissed Trimañez’s claims, saying the regional office was ready to provide updates at any time should the local governments need it.

READ:DPWH partially reopens Iloilo ‘sinking’ flyover

“We are willing to attend if they do have an invitation. What we received is a notice that they want us to attend their session but no definite schedule was given. Once we commit to update them, we are ready to give updates any time the local government unit needs them,” Oropel said.

Trimañez said he would inform Pavia vice mayor Edsel Gerochi to set a schedule to meet the DPWH officials.

Trimañez lamented the lack of updates from the agency, saying they started to doubt the DPWH’s commitments to the local governments.

“I really don’t trust what they were saying [before]. They promised to give us reports. Until now, nothing, and updates, until now, nothing. Our question is, who do we ask? No one can answer us because [the DPWH-6] is hanging us out to dry. It’s like we Ilonggos are the ones to answer for the perversion they gave us, while they were the ones who used taxpayer’s money [for the flyover projects],” he said.

READ: DPWH execs, contractor sued over ‘sinking’ flyover

Iloilo City Councilor Sedfrey Cabaluna, who also chairs the city council’s transportation committee, said in January that the DPWH had committed to regularly update them regarding the Ungka flyover’s status.

But Trimañez noted that his counterparts in the city council and the provincial board had likewise not heard from the agency.

“I don’t think they have complied with their commitments to the city. Our counterparts in the [Iloilo City council] asked me when we met recently. We told them that we were not able to receive [any update], and it was the same for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan,” he said.

The Ungka flyover was partially opened to the public on June 30, 2022.

READ: DPWH orders probe of ‘sinking’ Iloilo flyover

Barely two months later, on Sept. 6, 2022, the P680-million structure, which was funded through the efforts of former Senator Franklin Drilon to cut travel time to the Iloilo International Airport in Cabatuan town, was fully opened to commuters.

But on Sept. 18, 2022, the DPWH closed the flyover after motorists complained about the “wavy feel” while driving over it, and amid reports and images of pools of water at the top of the flyover during rainy days.

The P802-million Aganan Flyover, on the other hand, started construction works in 2020 but abruptly ceased, drawing attention to potential issues with the project.

Confirmatory and seismic testing conducted by the DPWH regional office indicated that there were indeed flaws in the design of the flyover.

Oropel declined to provide a clear timeline as to when the Aganan Flyover would be finished, saying they were seeking a third-party consulting firm to investigate it.