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

Series of fires hits Bulacan

MALOLOS CITY—Three fire incidents occurred in Bulacan including a stock room of a mall in Baliwag town late Friday and early yesterday making it the busiest 16 hours for local fire fighters.

No one was reported injured in the incidents, while local firemen are still trying to determine amount of damage in the said fires.

Beverly Cruz, public relations officer of SM City Baliwag said a fire broke in their stock room around 7:30AM  on March 15.

However, it was immediately contained and mall operations yesterday was hardly affected aside from about one delay in the entrance of mall tenants.

Cruz said that mall tenants were not immediately allowed to open their stalls due to smoke that spread near the mall’s event center.

“We have to ensure their safety and of our customers,” she said in a telephone interview.

Cruz noted that series of fire drills conducted in the mall in the past years greatly help them in containing the fire.

The most recent fire drill at the mall was held last March 12 or just three days before the incident.

She said that the fire started from a light bulb at the stock room near the mall’s events center.

On Friday afternoon, two other fire incidents occurred in Bulakan and Hagonoy towns.

Records from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) showed that the fire in Bulakan town occurred in a residential area in Barangay Bagumbayan around 3:35PM on Friday.

The fire was contained around 5:35Pm on Friday.

About an hour later, Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado called the PDRRMO to relay information that another fire occurred in Purok 2 in Barangay Abulalas in Hagonoy town.

The PDRMMO immediately dispatched dire truck to help contain a grassfire.

In his weekly broadcast over Radyo Bulacan yesterday morning, the Governor hailed readiness of local firefighters and vigilance of local residents.

He then gave the number of the PDRRMO operations center which Bulakenyos call in case of fire and other emergencies.

The number is 044-791-0566.

Earlier, two public markets in the province were gutted by fire, timely arrival of local firefighters prevented the fire from spreading.

These are the public markets of San Rafael town which was gutted two weeks ago, and the public market of Bulakan town which was gutted a week ago.

There other public markers in Bulacan were either razed to ground of gutted by fire since 2010.

This includes the Hagonoy Public Market which was razed to ground in August 2010; followed by the Malolos Public Market which was gutted in August 2012;and the Balagtas public market which was razed to ground in April last year.  Dino Balabo