THE New Year 2015 was marred on January 2 with the newspaper report entitled “DPWH: P3.7 B Edsa Rehab finally starts this summer.” The heading of the disturbing news item even has double the font size of the heads of the other two reports on the same page.
The title in bold print seems to suggest that the despicable DPWH project, described as “much delayed” in the first sentence of the report, is already long overdue and must now be implemented.
What is both alarming and deeply disturbing is that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will waste billions of pesos of the people’s money with the alleged use in “applying new technologies in pavement improvement.” The DPWH proudly announced that it will use “special high-grade asphalt coming from Singapore” in the rehabilitation of the 23-km Epifanio de los Reyes Avenue (EDSA).
The dubious DPWH-National Capital Regions Director Reynaldo Tagudando revealed that it would be the first time that the imported asphalt would be used in a public works project in Metro Manila. This is a curious statement because Director Tagudando only mentioned “Metro Manila.” Does it mean that the DPWH has already used the same material outside the National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila before?
The “special high grade asphalt from Singapore” is supposed to be “more rigid, durable, highly resistant to cracks and other deformation suitable for high-traffic volume.” This is apparently to justify the excessively expensive imported asphalt that will be used. The pathetic DPWH-NCR director even claims that the high-grade asphalt from Singapore is the “next best thing to the concrete reblocking and piecemeal repairs on Edsa.”
First question is how would DPWH know that it is the “next best thing to concrete reblocking” when it is the first time that it would be used here? Have they seen its applications overseas? Second question is what made DPWH decide to use the imported asphalt that is obscenely overpriced compared to the local asphalt of high standard that is being used by the private sector, such as the concessionaires of the expressways?
It must be pointed out that the concrete reblocking done by DPWH last year along EDSA and other national roads was poorly done. The pavements were still in good condition with the asphalt overlay when the DPWH shame lessly demolished them to make money from these projects. In fact, the pavements were better off if they were left untouched by the despicable DPWH.
Analysis of costings of asphalt
The costing of DPWH for its asphalt overlay is only P10.0 Million per km for its national highways with two-lanes. Since Edsa is ten-lanes or five times the width, then the cost should be P50 million per km or even less due to the economies of scale of a big project like Edsa. However, the cost of paving using “special high-grade asphalt from Singapore” will now be three times or 300 percent at around P160.0 million per kilometer.
The astounding cost of P160.87 Million per km is arrived at by dividing the total project cost of P3.74 Billion with the total length of 23 kilometers. The 10-lane national highway (Edsa) starts from Pasay City in the west passing through Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City and ending at Caloocan City in the north.
Hence, to simplify for illustrative purposes, the P10.0 million per km that will be DPWH’s cost for asphalt paving over concrete road of two lanes will now cost P32.0 Million per km using the imported asphalt with “new technologies in pavement improvement.” This is CRIMINAL and it will happen under the Daang Matuwid of the Aquino administration.
The DPWH has secured the necessary approval from Malacañang, as per PDI report of January 3, 2015 quoting its NCR Director. “Malacañang” means the Office of the President and/or the Department of Budget & Management (DBM) of the notorious Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad with his Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) of the PDAF & DAP Infamy, which were declared “unconstitutional” by the Supreme Court.
The price difference in the total project cost between the local asphalt of high standard costing P1.15 billion vis-avis the P3.74 billion “high-grade asphalt from Singapore” is P2.59 billion.. Thus, P2.59 billion will be saved in taxpayers money or public funds by using local asphalt of high quality instead of the imported kind. The said amount is almost 70 percent of the P3.74 project cost of the DPWH.
Incompetence & corruption NEVER ends in this Aquino Administration
DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson may justify that the special asphalt will cost much, much more because it will be imported from Singapore and is a superior product. This will be funny when Mr. Singson says it. Why? Because there is NO Need to import the “special high-grade asphalt from Singapore.” Local asphalt of high quality is more than good enough for Edsa and other major thoroughfares in Metro Manila.
The DPWH Secretary was quoted several times in January 2013 of transforming Edsa into a national highway as “SMOOTH” as the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX). This was broadcasted on television, radio and written in the newspapers. Yet local asphalt of high quality was used on NLEX and SLEX and NOT the “high-grade asphalt from Singapore,” which will now be used for the first time.
Lastly, there is no need to make Edsa “SMOOTH” as NLEX and SLEX for two reasons. First, it will NOT make traffic go faster! Second, ‘Smooth’ surface may be dangerous for motor vehicles passing through Edsa when it is raining and traffic is moving! The tires need traction with the surface of the pavement through skid resistance.
Isn’t it curious that all expressways in the Philippines from SLEX-Star Express and Cavitex to NLEX, SCTEX and TPLEX use local asphalt and yet DPWH wants to use expensive imported asphalt from Singapore? It would be interesting to know the beneficiary with the DPWH using the “special high grade asphalt.” Who is the Filipino contractor and supplier? Hopefully, NOT the favored ones from the Liberal Party!
One of the justifications used by Secretary Singson in early 2013 for the sudden rehabilitation of Edsa was the coming World Economic Forum (WEF) in May 2014.
However, President Benigno Aquino 3rd had the project immediately stopped in spite of the WEF after the massive and severe criticisms from both mainstream and social media.
The WEF Summit in Manila is now long over. So it would now be the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Meeting? But aren’t these APEC meetings supposed to be held in various venues, such as the controversial and unfinished Iloilo Convention Center (ICC)? So what is the justification for the DPWH to do the P3.7 billion Edsa rehabilitation? Fund-raising of Daang Matuwid for the 2016 national elections?
For the 2014 WEF Summit, the DPWH did some reblocking along Edsa and it was a disaster. It was poorly done and there were cracks after it was opened to traffic. ABS-CBN News interviewed me in my capacity as Executive Director of InfraWatch. I remarked that InfraWatch has yet to see a project of DPWH done right.
Secretary Singson had no choice but to admit the cracks on their reblocking and blamed the MMDA for forcing them to open the sections to traffic too soon. Well, DPWH should know better and waited for the right time. Mr. Singson said that DPWH will apply epoxy injection to remedy the cracks. Hopeless!