Surigao traders seek probe on ‘sungkaan’ road

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/04 March)  — The business sector representative to the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) wants a full-blown inquiry on the “state of highways of Caraga Region” while the Surigao business chamber wants an immediate stop to all road drillings that are left unattended to for months.

Johann Jake B. Miranda, business sector representative to the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), filed a complaint to Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson though Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, MinDA chair, over the unfinished road projects linking the provinces of Caraga.

Miranda cited two reasons for the complaint: that “road contractors and the DPWH have apparently and intentionally bored thousands of holes in the roads months before any actual repair is done;” and “roads that are not even in damaged conditions are being deliberately wrecked for reasons unknown.”

Miranda said “damaged roads” have caused “numerous vehicular breakdowns, decreased fuel mileage, substantial economic losses and delays in services and commuting schedules”.

In his letter, Miranda said “we formally request that a full investigation be conducted ….with particular attention to the culpability of the DPWH Caraga region and its contractors.”

He proposed that the probe be done by the DPWH Central Office, MinDa and other concerned agencies.

Danilo Versola, DPWH Caraga regional director cited intermittent rains for the delay in completing the road projects.

He apologized to the public for the inconvenience, sought understanding and promised that the roads will be completed especially as the onset of the summer season is nearing.

Public outcry

Road users and commuters have been complaining about the stretch of potholed roads traversing the national highways of Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur since last year.

The social networking site Facebook is a witness to the public outcry among Surigaonons of the cracked roads. One netizen says, “the road is like a bumpy ride going to the mountains.”

Another says, “it’s like sungkaan” or the mancala board which has a dozen holes and stones are placed on the holes

The local business sector has also signified its support to Miranda’s call.

On Monday, the Surigao Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) passed a resolution requesting the public works office in Caraga “to immediately stop all road drillings and ensure strict and time-bound implementation of repairs of existing drilled and damaged roads in Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Norte in a manner that serves its purpose without any case of inconvenience to the road users and with high regard on the economic and safety implications of these projects.”

Resolution No. 2 of the SCCI also cited the seeming “intentional” move to drill the roads and leave it for months before construction will commence; the drilling of a city road in Surigao City particularly in Borromeo Street, which it cited was also drilled when it is still “functional” compared to the roads along the Caraga Regional Hospital or at the Surigao Education Center which has not been maintained for some time now; and other reasons also cited by Miranda.

“The SCCI expresses its disgust against the indiscriminate drilling of roads without proper consultation with the concerned and affected public,” the resolution stated.

The group also did not agree on the DPWH claim that the weather and the lack of manpower have caused the delay of the project saying the facts show it otherwise.

Questionable

It said the DPWH is “questionably awarding road repairs to contractors who are ill-equipped” while contractors “in order to avoid negative slippage will wantonly drill roads months ahead of any actual repair effort.”

The resolution further said “that even in sunny and fair weather there are no contractors working on the roads.”

“Overall the DPWH is not on top of its job to correctly and honestly implement road projects in Caraga,” the resolution said.

In an earlier interview, Rep. Guillermo A. Romarate of the 2nd district told reporters that he had  raised this concern to DPWH officials and was told that the roads were drilled months ahead in order for it to “soften”.

Because of the road mess, some visiting foreign tourists have expressed their discomfort in traveling to Surigao from Butuan City or back.

Sophia Mitterregger, an Austrian who has visited Surigao del Norte twice said a tourist like her may be discouraged in returning because of the poor road maintenance.

“No one wants to be delayed on a trip and this is discouraging for tourists like me, although I understand the situation. I hope in my next visit the road gets better,” she said. (Roel Catoto/MindaNews)

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