BONTOC, Mountain Province – Some P58 million is required by the public works department to rehabilitate the huge road cut along the Baguio-Bontoc road or Halsema highway, particularly at Busa, Sabangan town, to bring back the smooth flow of traffic on one of the province’s major road network.
Rep. Maximo Y. Dalog said that the documents of the fund request is now pending action with the Administrator of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) before being acted upon by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) considering that the possible source of funds for the rehabilitation and restoration project is the calamity fund of the national government.
Further, the neophyte lawmaker added that the public works department included the fund for the project under its regular fund for next year to ensure that funds for the very important project will be provided the soonest to bring back the smooth flow of traffic along the major roadline.
At the height of Tropical Cyclone Ompong last September 15, 2018, a 120-meter long and 70-meter deep portion of the Halsema highway located in Busa, Sabangan town was washed out by the strong rains of the weather disturbance that caused the huge road cut that nearly isolated the province from the rest of the region.
“We appeal for utmost understanding from our constituents and visitors who usually ply the regular route from the inconveniences caused by the temporary re-routing of their travel because of the still unimplemented restoration project. We assure our people that we are constantly following up the provision of the funds for the project with the concerned government agencies whichever will come first,” Rep. Dalog stressed.
At present, travellers going in and out of the province through the Baguio-Bontoc portion of the Halsema highway have to pass through the Mabaay-Abatan provincial road which is more than an hour travel compared to the previous route passing through the damaged Busa section of the roadline.
The congressman expressed support to the clamor of the people of Mountain Province for the immediate restoration of the road cut but there is a need to undergo the prescribed processes leading to the eventual release of the funds that will facilitate the eventual implementation of the programmed works in the damaged portion of the road.
From the previous 4 to 5-hour travel from Baguio City to the capital town, the same increased to at least 6 hours after the occurrence of the road cut considering the need for public and private vehicles to take the alternate route that is much longer and more challenging to them.
Dalog disclosed that the public works department is even contemplating on subjecting the project to public bidding short of award to shorten the process so that the restoration project could be immediately awarded to the winning contractor once the funds will be made available either by the NDRRMC or the DPWH whichever will come first.
Part of the programmed works for the restoration project include the construction of grouted riprap from the bottom of the ravine up to the pavement which will also be concreted for the benefit of the motorists using the road.