DPWH admits error in Kapalong-Valencia highway budget

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/8 Sept) — The Department of Public Works and Highways regional office in Northern Mindanao admitted it erred in proposing a P1.515-billion budget for the Kapalong (Davao del Norte) to Valencia City (Bukidnon) highway.

Engr. Bonifacio Lora, assistant regional director, told the Bukidnon provincial board Wednesday the budget was not enough to complete the project.

He said they needed another P1.5 billion to concretize the 70-kilometer highway designed to cut travel time between the two provinces.

Past reference to the project shows it is a 91-kilometer highway worth P3.64 billion as listed in the inter-region projects for the Mindanao super region for Caraga and Northern Mindanao.

Based on the DPWH website as of January 13, 2010, they have accomplished 92 percent of the project.

Lora said the original budget took note of only nine bridges but there were actually 15 bridges needed in the whole stretch of the highway.

Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. lambasted DPWH official, saying it was “stupid” for the surveyors not to have factored in the six other bridges when even provincial engineers can do the job.

Zubiri questioned the DPWH’s failure to propose the appropriate budget in the provincial board’s inquiry of the status of the agency’s projects in the province.

Lora admitted to MindaNews after the session their poor estimate because their surveyors failed to get an accurate estimate of the bridges.

“They were afraid to go to the field in some rebel infested areas,” he added.

He said they would need the second part of the budget to concretize the road and for slope protection.

Lora appeared at the provincial board upon request to clarify the status of highway projects.

The highway project has also drawn criticisms from environmentalists.

In July, Agustilo Obsioma, Bukidnon provincial environmental and natural resources officer, said that while the road has provided longer farm-to-market road between the provinces, it has also triggered the cutting of naturally grown trees in San Fernando town, along Bukidnon’s forest frontier.

“Accessibility is taking its toll. The forests are put to risk with the highway,” he told MindaNews earlier.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources reported in July the apprehension of a total of 325 pieces of abandoned naturally grown trees, mostly Philippine mahogany species in three sitios in Brgy. Kalagangan, San Fernando, Bukidnon. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)