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PALAWAN IN THE ROUGH

Top PH destination also tops in unpaved roads

WITH its world-renowned underground river, Palawan last year emerged as the globe’s top island destination in a poll conducted by the US travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, beating 147 other famous islands such as Bora-Bora in the French Polynesia, Maldives in the Indian Ocean, Bali in Indonesia, Santorini in Greece and Maui in Hawaii.

However, Palawan is also No. 1 on the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) list of provinces nationwide with still unpaved national arterial and secondary roads at 307.2 kilometers.

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Rough or unpaved

In a report, the DPWH also disclosed that a total of 3,714.2 km of roads in 65 provinces remained rough or unpaved.

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Ranking second is Zamboanga del Norte province with 226.27 km, followed by Bukidnon with 216.93 km; Zamboanga del Sur, 188.9 km; Apayao, 180.31 km; Davao del Sur, 175.12 km; Agusan del Sur, 150.86 km; Lanao del Norte, 144.69 km; Kalinga, 143.82 km; Sultan Kudarat, 123.92; Ifugao, 114.15 km.

Quezon, 105.23 km; Mountain Province, 104.82 km; Catanduanes, 92.31 km; North Cotabato, 91.01 km; Compostela Valley, 85.66; Romblon, 81.72 km; Cagayan, 76.25 km; Negros Occidental, 70.48 km; Mindoro Occidental, 69.84 km; Benguet, 64.94 km.

Negros Oriental, 61.59 km; Dinagat Islands, 58.37 km; South Cotabato, 56.12 km; Aurora, 51.16 km; Saranggani, 45.86 km; Davao Oriental, 45.07 km; Northern Samar, 43.63 km; Quirino, 42.24 km; Abra, 39.7 km; Leyte, 39.01 km; Iloilo, 33.27 km; Camarines Sur, 31.21 km, and Zamboanga Sibugay, 26.13 km.

Aklan province, where Boracay Island—12th placer in the Conde Nast Traveler survey of over 76,600 readers—is located, has only 0.85 km of unpaved national roads, according to the DPWH.

Meanwhile, the same report said 100 percent of national roads in Metro Manila have been upgraded, along with their counterparts in Pangasinan, Bulacan, Zambales, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Siquijor, Camiguin, and Tarlac, home province of President Aquino.

Last week, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) announced that P6.5 billion has been set aside this year for the upgrading and rehabilitation of national arterial and secondary roads in 73 provinces all over the country.

The budget is covered by the Kalsada program of the Aquino administration, said the DBM. Kalsada is short for Konkreto at Ayos na Lansangan at Daan Tungo sa Pangkalahatang Kaunlaran.

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The DPWH has prioritized rehabilitation over preventive maintenance of the country’s road network, which is valued at P1.2 trillion.

It also said it would “continue improving the smoothness of national highways through improved construction processes, tighter supervision and quality assurance during the roads’ construction stage.”

Top priorities

Other DPWH priorities include the “pavement of the remaining gravel and rough roads nationwide; replacing all timber and bailey bridges with concrete or steel bridges; implementation of better drainage along primary roads to ensure a longer life span of the road pavements, and improved flood control and other climate change adaptation measures.”

In 2014, the DPWH paved a total of 29,160 km, or 93 percent of the national road network’s total length of 31,242 km. This was targeted to increase to 30,316 km, or 97 percent last year and 100 percent by the end of 2016.

To ensure connectivity, the DPWH has made permanent 343,988 lineal meters, or 99.42 percent of the total 345,978 lineal meters of bridges along national roads.

It expects to complete its bridges replacement program by December this year.

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