Antipas road: whatever happened to this “priority project?”

KIDAPAWAN CITY  (MindaNews/15 December) — The 200-meter road in Antipas, North Cotabato, according to the billboard, was a “priority project” and was supposed to have been started on August 4, for completion on December 8.

PRIORITY PROJECT? The 200-meter portion of the Kidapawan-Antipas road bannered by North Cotabato 2nd District Rep. Nancy Catamco as one of her "priority projects." Photo taken on October 17, 2011. Mindanews Photo by Ruby Thursday MoreDecember 8 has come and gone but the P14-M project remains “priority” only as far as the billboard along the highway is concerned.

Armand Lita, Purok president in Barangay Kiya-ab in Antipas, North Cotabato, said they waited long for the project only to be disappointed when they could not find any equipment working on the road project.

The project’s billboard shows the photo of Cotabato 2nd district Representative Nancy Catamco saying the supposed concreting of the 200-meter road is her “priority project.”

The contractor of the project is Sarangani Rock Mixer, which is based in General Santos City.       Based on the contract, the Sarangani Rock Mixer will upgrade from gravel to concrete the 200-meter road from Barangay Luhong to Barangay Kiyaab in Antipas, which is part of the Arakan Valley Development Complex.

Asked what happened to the project, Catamco said it is no longer her primary task to check on the implementation.

“While it’s true that the project is considered a priority, it’s the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) that checks on how it is being implemented,” said Catamco.

The P14-M budget comes from the regular infrastructure fund of the DPWH, she said.

Catamco admitted that 15 percent of the total project cost or P2.1 million was already released earlier by the national government to Sarangani Rock Mixer as mobilization fund.

But there is no sign as yet that the project has started.

Sarangani Rock Mixer project engineer Jerson Bernal blamed the weather condition for not completing on time the project.

“It rains here at least three times in a week.  This is one of our biggest problems.   We could not cement the road if it’s raining,” said Bernal.

Catamco was told the Sarangani Rock Mixer has at least two ongoing road construction projects in North Cotabato under the DPWH Cotabato First Engineering District: in Barangay Kiyaab and  in Barangay Pontevedra, both in Antipas town.

Of the two projects, she said, the contractor has yet to complete the upgrading of the Barangay Pontevedra road, which is about 600 meters long, before it could start its project in Barangay Kiyaab.

In fact, she said, the contractor has already asked for an extension.

Mamintal Taha, North Cotabato district engineer, said they gave the contractor at least 30 days to complete the project.

After the extension, however, the agency would be imposing penalty on the contractor if it still fails to finish it, Taha said.

If the contractor fails to finish the contract after the extension, we will impose penalty on him, and if the delay continues, we have no other choice but to terminate the contract,” Tala stressed. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)