Since I was young growing in Manila, the quality of asphalt roads in Manila is only as good as the summer season. As soon as the rainy season comes, its another story. I always wonder maybe all roads should be in concrete. I recently read this article and wonder whether its a matter of quality, governance or just the strong weather is the issue. Still, I don’t recall Ayala Avenue having similar road problems even in memories past. Hmm.
The fresh layer of asphalt looked thick enough, at about four inches, from where I sat, stuck in traffic in my car, as the road improvement was rushed in the scorching days of April, in time for the ADB meeting on May 2-5.
Now long stretches of the boulevard look like the surface of the moon. Even the overpass on EDSA is damaged; the asphalt layer on the southbound lane was dug up several days ago, in preparation for re-pavement, but I guess the work has to wait for the end of the foul weather that continued until yesterday.
I’m no civil engineer so I don’t know how long quality asphalt pavement should be able to withstand monsoon rains. But I think three months is too short (with over a month still hot summer). The expenditure for endless road repairs, from the rainy season till Christmas, is too heavy a burden on taxpayers.
Inevitably, people smell corruption, sheer incompetence, or both. For President Aquino, who likes delivering his speeches in Filipino, the observation should hit harder in our language: Kaaayos lang, sira-sira na naman? Sino na naman ang kikita dito?
The criticism may be based on speculation, but it’s not entirely baseless.
P-Noy, who has made the battle against corruption the lynchpin of his governance, should demand better roads from state civil engineers. Roads are among the most visible aspects of governance. If more good news is what P-Noy wants, rutted roads are always bad news.
At the very least, newly repaved roads should last longer than three months. That’s not an unreasonable objective.
For road projects undertaken by private contractors, full payment should be withheld for a certain period, until the durability of the product they delivered has passed certain tests.
Like the World Bank, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) should also debar contractors that keep delivering substandard services.
Remember the Buendia flyover that took four months to rehabilitate last year, only to disintegrate in the first heavy rain after it was opened? Taxpayers paid P87 million for that lemon, which contractor Towking Construction had to redo during the Christmas holiday rush.
Apart from requiring contractors to shoulder the cost of repairs for their shoddy work, the government should start imposing sanctions, on both the contractors and the DPWH personnel who are supposed to oversee the project.
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Roxas Boulevard looked like a huge infinity pool the other day, with the waters of Manila Bay and the flood on the thoroughfare rising up to the level of the seawall.
Late in the evening, hours after the flood receded, many patches of Roxas Boulevard looked like a lunar landscape, with the worst along the southbound stretch from EDSA in Baclaran, Parañaque all the way to the end, before Coastal Road.
As of yesterday, several of the potholes had become so large and deep they were causing traffic jams as even buses and other large vehicles avoided them.
The disintegration was only aggravated by the latest weather disturbance. Since I was wondering how long the smooth pavement would last after the ADB meeting, I kept a mental note of when disintegration would start. I noticed early signs of deterioration about two weeks ago.
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It was only the third massive flooding on Roxas Boulevard that I can remember in my lifetime. The first was in late September 2006, when I had to drive to the office through a boulevard blocked by toppled trees and lampposts, and flooded up to the service road with garbage-littered water several inches deep.
That flooding was understandable; it was the height of super typhoon “Milenyo” (international name Xangsane), which knocked out power in Metro Manila for several days. In the driving rain and powerful wind, my car shook so badly I worried that it would be blown away, like some trucks and shipping containers I spotted along the way.
The second time, the wind was less powerful but the flood was worse. The cause – as explained by weather experts – was so new we had to google the phenomenon: a storm surge. Typhoon “Pedring” spawned the storm surge on Sept. 27 last year, almost exactly five years to the day Milenyo struck. The surge, which sent waves up to 20 feet high crashing into land, destroyed the popular Spiral Restaurant at the Sofitel and flooded bayfront areas, from the hotel all the way to Roxas Boulevard
Ten months later, we have a “monsoon surge.” There were no 20-foot-tall waves the other day, and the flood receded quickly as the tide ebbed. By noon, all that was left on the boulevard was a sea of garbage. A swarm of scavengers helped clean up quickly, segregating the trash in separate large plastic bags for sale to recyclers.
But even before the monsoon surge, Roxas Boulevard had already started disintegrating. And it could get worse, all the way to Christmas.
P-Noy, who appears pleased with the performance of his DPWH chief, should try driving one of his favorite cars along the boulevard.
He should take a good look at where our taxes go. That’s public money, melting in the rain.