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SABANGAN, Mountain Province – The constant lobbying of officials and different sectors from the province paid off as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) through the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) approved the release of P52 million from the government’s calamity funds for the immediate restoration of the road cut along the Busa section of the Halsema Highway inflicted by the wrath of Supertyphoon Ompong more than a year ago.
However, Mayor Marcial Lawilao, Jr. said that the funds might no longer be sufficient to restore the huge road cut due to the series of adjustments in the prices of construction materials and aggregates but there is a need to push through with the same in the greater interest of the people going in and out of the province.
He added the release of the funds earmarked for the important project was made possible through the efforts of Rep. Maximo Dalog, Jr., Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan, Jr. and other provincial and municipal officials, who persisted in appealing for the prioritization of the project that will lessen the burden of motorists going in and out of the province using the Halsema Highway as their exit and entry route.
The funds will be downloaded to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) regional office which will be charged with the public bidding and overseeing the implementation of the project so that the same will be completed the soonest.
“We are keeping our fingers crossed that the implementation of the project will start before the end of the year to end the year-long suffering of our motorists in having to spend more than an hour of travel just to reach their desired destinations inside and outside the province,” Mayor Lawilao stressed.
Among the programmed works for the restoration of the 150-meter long and nearly 100-meter deep road cut include the construction of a gabion-type riprap wall and the concreting of the pavement aside from the enhancement of the existing slope protection wall in the mountain slope.
Earlier, Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan, Jr. signified the intention of the provincial government to extend the needed financial assistance to the Department of Public works and Highways–First Mountain Province District Engineering Office (DPWH-FMPDEO) to open the roadline to light vehicles while awaiting for the completion of the restoration of the road cut considering that travel to the different parts of the province has been significantly affected because of the unrestored damage to the region’s main highway.
The Halsema Highway traverses La Trinidad, Benguet passing through the towns of Tublay, Atok, Bakun and Buguias in Benguet, the towns of Bauko, Sabangan and Bontoc in Mountain Province and Banaue in Ifugao.
Motorists going and out of the province have to take the longer route passing through the Mabaay-Abatan-Nacagang provincial road before being able to reach their desired destinations in the province which is more than an hour of added travel time for them compared to passing through the Busa section of the Halsema Highway. By HENT