LEGAZPI CITY: The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) on Thursday ordered the total clearing of national roads from all kinds of obstruction that causes accidents to motorists and pedestrians.
This developed as the DPWH began its road widening by reclaiming the 20-meter highway road for concreting, an average 9.8 meters of which is reportedly occupied by squatters with road shoulders used for drying palay and extended bus terminals.
Newly appointed DPWH regional director Melvin Navarro cannot be reached for comment but assistant regional director Armando Estrella said the widening and concreting of roads is limited to highways with already cleared Road Right of Way (RROW).
Estrella admitted that the biggest portion of highways in the region is still occupied by squatters and that negotiation to vacate the RROW is ongoing.
DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson has issued Department Order 73 series of 2014 directing regional directors and district engineers to clear national roads of obstructions that could be detrimental to motorists and pedestrians. Last year, he also issued DO 21 that bans palay drying in national roads and related obstructions citing Presidential Decree 17 otherwise known as the Philippine Highway Act which carries both a penalty and imprisonment for violators.
But former Bicol DPWH public affairs executive Romeo Esplana remains skeptical as he denounced DPWH engineers of blatantly ignoring repeated orders to clear national roads from any obstructions that many contractors complained of difficulty starting their road widening and concreting contracts as RROW squatters refused to leave, claiming they were not informed in advance.
“The DO 73 is a reiteration of previous DOs related to highway obstructions that merely served as pieces of paper, nothing more,” said Esplana.
He said the DPWH could not stop the proliferation of padyak and palay drying on national roads barricaded with hard objects.
Esplana also lamented despite the widened and paved roads in the first district of Albay along the Malilipot National School, students have to walk on the lanes used by motorists because the other lanes were used in drying palay.
Estrella said Singson strictly ordered the clearing of roads and district engineers should implement it.
DPWH officials explained that a highway road lane has a measurement of 3.1 meters or 6.2 meters for the two opposite lanes. In provincial national roads, an added lane which is known as a road shoulder usually measures an average of only two meters plus a one meter line canal or a total existing roadway of only 11.2 meters against the 20-meter RROW.
With the total concreting program of the RROW, vehicles would have to enjoy using the expanded roads to four-lane with a total width of 12.4 meters with the remaining 7.6 meters or 3.8 meters on each side comfortable enough for the safety of pedestrians and unloading passengers.