LEGAZPI CITY: A P446-million long overdue road project in Masbate has been given an extended deadline despite calls for its termination, according to a former official of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Romeo Esplana, former DPWH-Bicol public affairs chief, noted that the road rehabilitation project, the implementation of which began in 2012, should have long been terminated because of substantial delays.
The project involved the asphalting of 13.6 kilometers (km) and concreting of 13.2 km of the Cataingan-Placer national road.
The cost of the project was originally pegged at P426,539,130.80 and subsequently raised to P444,973,177.91 with the period of construction set from November 22, 2012 to April 15, 2014.
The completion date, however, was moved to May 22, 2015, according to a DPWH monthly status report posted on August 31, 2014.
Documents from the DPWH cited insufficient manpower, delayed delivery of construction materials, and low manpower output among the alleged causes for the delays in the project.
Esplana said the substantial delay in the completion of the project has been the subject of several complaints in Masbate.
The former DPWH official also raised suspicions over the credentials of one of the project contractors, who, he said, might only be a dummy or operating under the license of an Ormoc City-based contractor in order to secure the road rehabilitation contract.
He claimed that many road projects, being implemented by the same contractor under the auspices of Masbate’s second engineering district, have also been incurring substantial delays.
The setbacks, according to Esplana, caused the sacking of District Engineer Edgar Curativo, last week.
Esplana also cited that another contractor of the Cataingan-Placer national road rehabilitation project attempted to claim partial payment from the government based on a “bloated” accomplishment report.
The contractor allegedly claimed almost P220 million, corresponding to 50 percent completion of the project.
Documents from the DPWH, however, showed that the said contractor, while not being able to collect the mentioned amount, was still able to collect from the government P94,327,153.92.
Meanwhile, Ma. Estrella Ubaldo, the road project’s quality control engineer, noted that the said amount actually collected corresponded only to 31 percent completion.