Zubiri castigates DWPH-10 for highway cracks

MALAYBALAY CITY(MindaNews/ 29 August) – Bukidnon Vice Governor Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. on Wednesday blamed officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways Regional Office 10 (DPWH-10) for the numerous cracks along the Sayre highway traversing the province.

Zubiri, during the provincial board’s regular session, warned DPWH-10 officials, led by Engr. Efren Berba, acting assistant regional director, that they will be facing a complaint before the Ombudsman if the agency cannot force the contractors of the highway projects in 2010 now marred with complaints of alleged substandard quality.

“You have to compel these contractors to repair the [road] projects,” said an irate Zubiri, the SP presiding officer, addressing Berba, The vice governor asked the DPWH-10 officials to compel the contractors to do the repairs within the month of September otherwise they will face complaints before the Ombudsman.

He also urged Berba to ensure that existing DPWH projects implemented by the regional office should no longer have cracks, noting the provincial government has been bombarded with complaints from the public about the road problem.

According to Zubiri, there have been 62 reported cracks, with the longest 26 within Bukidnon’s southern area under the DPWH second engineering district.

Berba, who said he was only in the job for a year and two months, claimed that the increase in the number of loaded trucks plying the route caused the cracks.

Zubiri lashed at Berba, citing that roads in the southern part of the province did not have cracks before even with the heavy load of trucks carrying sugarcane and other agricultural products.

“You should be ashamed to have used that as an excuse,” he added.

Zubiri said he required Bukidnon’s three DPWH district engineers to submit a complete list of road cracks in their area because “a concrete road should last for at least 20 years.”

Engr. Rey Peter Gille, DPWH district engineer in central Bukidnon, also cited the increasing load of traffic in the Sayre highway, including trucks carrying agriculture products like sugarcane, as a reason for the road cracks. He cited that since last year, the DPWH has increased the requirement of the pavement’s thickness.

Zubiri said the trucks should not be blamed and asked if the contractors were applying the right mix of materials or if the DPWH was monitoring their work properly.

He floated that there could be kickbacks or favoritism, to which Berba replied that the “DPWH employs prequalification process and a post bidding check.”

A representative from Ulticon Builders Inc, one of the contractors, said they are already conducting the repairs, adding that the cracks may be “due to heavy traffic.” But he also admitted that work preparation could also be a factor in the cracks.

Board member Ranulfo Pepito, who is from Valencia City, suggested that DPWH-10 should ask the contractors to base their road repair on the new required thickness of 13 inches.  (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)