Thursday, March 20, 2014

Angry residents bewails delay on Calumpit bridge rehab

Calumpit bridge that links Bulacan and Pampanga provinces.  DB

CALUMPIT, Bulacan—Like thousands other residents of Pampanga, Jennielyn Mallari, a student of Bulacan State University (BulSU) has been complaining on the slow rehabilitation of a bridge here.

However, their daily sacrifice is not ending soon as the planned 10-month rehabilitation of the bridge that links the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga has been extended.

Officials are still unsure when the rehabilitation will be completed saying it will extend until the rainy months of June, but other said it might be completed by October.

“Ang layo ng iniikutan namin para lang makarating sa school,” said Mallari a graduating student at BulSU in Malolos City.

She was referring to route plied by buses along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) then to San Simon toll plaza in going to her hometown of Macabebe in Pampanga.

Other students and commuters, however, do have that luxury.
Temporary hanging bridge beside Calumpit bridge. DB

They have to walk and cross the shaky hanging bridge installed parallel to Calumpit bridge which is being repaired.

Some of those most affected are small vendors who have to carry their goods on their shoulders or n their head.
The delay did not go unnoticed as local officials led by Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado, his wife Rep. Marivic Alvarado , and Mayor Jesse De Jesus of this town has aired their concerns.

The Alvarado’s are living at Barangay Gatbuca, just across the river and a stone throw away from the northern foot of the bridge.

The three have joined hand in calling the attention of Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson who recently ordered the Department of Public Works and Highways Regional Office in Central Luzon to closely monitor the progress on the construction.

Singson specifically ordered that rehabilitation be conducted 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

However, progress remain slow as project contractor Wing-An Construction and Development Corporation stumbled on obstructions for the piles they will bore underneath the old bridge.

The obstructions include concrete foundation on abutment “A” and “B”, and on pier 3; timber piles; and steel plates, angular bars and I-beams.

The contractor said that on normal soil condition, boring a pile only takes three days, and they have 24 piles to bore.

They estimated that with the presence of obstruction, boring each of the 24 piles will take at least a month.

This means that even if they bore all 24 piles simultaneously, it will take them more than a month just to bore those piles.

Records obtained by PromdiNEWS showed that the Calumpit Bridge rehabilitation started on June 18 last year and will be completed after 300 calendar days or on April 13 this year.

It was contracted by Wing-An Construction and Development Corporation for P166,721,086.98.

However, Gov. Alvarado said that Wing-An is now asking DPWH for additional fund along with extension of the project.

He said that delays of the project is due to lack of information provided by the DPWH when the project was bidded out.

Alvarado said that the original project cost was P210-M but it dropped to P166-M after the bidding because the contractor was not properly informed.

He said that the bridge was constructed before World War II and was bombed during the war, thus the obstructions underneath.  Dino Balabo