Group seeks probe of ‘overpriced’ bridge
ILOILO CITY—A citizen watchdog is seeking a Senate investigation on alleged irregularities in the construction of a 25-meter bridge in Jaro District in Iloilo City.
The Citizens Infrastructure Integrity Watchdog (InfraWatch) has claimed that the 25-meter Dungon Bridge costing around P36 million is “obscenely overpriced,” costing P1.44 million per linear meter.
Ricardo Ramos, InfraWatch executive director, also claimed that the replacement of the old bridge with a new one was unnecessary because the old bridge was “in good working condition.”
He also questioned the plan to widen the bridge into four lanes, which would cost an additional P17 million (or a total cost of P52 million) because the roads connected by the bridge only has two lanes. The bridge was built from November 2011 to August 2012.
Ramos said the cost of the Dungon Bridge is higher by at least P15 million compared to the similar Ayungon Bridge in La Carlota City in Negros Occidental, which was built at a cost of P21.825 million.
A four-lane bridge could be built with the P36 million spent on the two-lane Dungon Bridge, according to Ramos.
But, in a letter-response to Ramos dated Oct. 5, a copy of which was furnished the Inquirer, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson denied the overprice charge.
He said that only P34.92 million of the P36-million initial project funding was released to the Iloilo City District Engineering Office.
The revised contract cost of the project reached P33,861,332.34, which covered the construction of a two-lane and 40-linear meter prestressed concrete girder bridge.
The cost also included railing and sidewalk on one side and partial construction of the substructure of the remaining two lanes, including the concreting of both approaches with a 76-meter drainage line, Singson said.
Another P1.053 million was spent for compensation of workers and employees of the project.
Ramos had also pointed out to Singson that the columns and girders of the bridge appeared to be in good condition and did not need to be replaced.
Even if the bridge had been weakened, Ramos said this could still be reinforced and strengthened with existing technologies such as wrapping it with Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer.
But in his letter to Ramos, Singson said that the Dungon Bridge was constructed in 1948 and its structural stability “has definitely weakened” after 64 years based on the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) records.
Citing the DPWH Bridge Management System Inventory Report dated April 25, 2011, Singson said there were major damage on the bridge’s girders and slabs, with cracks ranging from 1.50 to 3 mm wide. Because of this, the bridge was included in the List of Priority Bridges Recommended for Replacement, he added.
Singson said the old bridge was replaced also because it had constricted the flow of floodwater.
He explained that the proposed widening of the bridge was based on the average daily traffic and the plan of the DPWH to widen the existing roads connected by the bridge into four lanes.
The annual average daily traffic data recorded for the El Road where the bridge is located is 23,047 as of 2010, which was comparable to the 23,529 vehicles passing the six-lane Benigno Aquino Avenue, according to Singson.
Singson said the remaining two lanes of the bridge would be completed in 2013 with an additional funding of P16 million, which would mean that the total cost of the bridge will reach P49.381 million.
“The cost per lineal meter of the bridge is P617,262.50, which is within the range of the DPWH standard cost for similar structure of P642,000,” Singson said.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.