The procession of The Black Nazarene on Thursday is expected to last up to 12 hours after the Quiapo Church decided to reroute it to avoid passing through McArthur Bridge.
Msgr. Clemente Ignacio of Quiapo Church said on Tuesday they considered the government’s suggestion not to pass through McArthur Bridge because of safety issues brought about by defects in its structure.
The procession will pass through Jones Bridge instead, which is a longer route, Ignacio said.
The procession usually lasts nine hours.
The government suggested the rerouting for the safety of the devotees “because we know there could be problems regarding McArthur Bridge,” he said.
The procession, known as Traslacion, will take the following route: Quirino Grandstand (Rizal Park); (left) Katigbak Drive through Padre Burgos Street; (left) Taft Avenue through Jones Bridge; (left) Escolta; (right) Palanca St. under Quezon Bridge; (left) Quezon Blvd; (right) Arlegui St; (right) Fraternal St; (right) Vergara St; (left) Duque de Alba St; (left) Castillejos St; (left) Farnecio St; (right) Arlegui St; (left) Nepomuceno St; (left) Aguila St; (right) Carcer St; (right) Hidalgo St. thru Plaza del Carmen; (left) Bilibid Viejo thru Puyat St; (left) Guzman St; (right) Hidalgo St; (left) Barbosa St; (right) Globo de Oro St. under Quezon Bridge; (right) Palanca St; (right) Villalobos St., to Plaza Miranda.
Ignacio admitted there will be difficulties regarding the new route.
“We will need more rescuers, and will be treading on unfamiliar grounds, but we want to avoid the risks if we pass through McArthur Bridge, he said.
Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) officer-in-charge assistant division chief of the Maintenance Division, Eduardo V. Santos said cracks were noted on the bridge, but it was not in danger of collapsing.
Still, “the government is just trying to ensure the safety of the public,” Santos said.
McArthur Bridge is designed to hold as many as 10,000 people at one time. But it needs strengthening and retrofitting because of its age.
Santos said that the retrofitting is still in the consultancy stage, and the plans will be submitted by March or April.
The Jones bridge was retrofitted in 2007.
“Actually nasa early consultancy stage pa siya at ang design ay isusubmit na namin, seguro mga March or April na mauumpisahan. Iyong Jones bridge na retrofit siya 2007.
Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno said the city government will put up barricades to keep people off the bridge.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Francisco Tolentino said the agency will deploy the same rescue teams it sent to Eastern Visayas after Typhoon Yolanda.
They will be joined by rescuers from the cities of Pasig, Malabon and Makati, Tolentino said.
A 4,000-strong police force will be deployed for the procession.
Fr. Ric Valencia, Jr., Quiapo’s parochial vicar, said there will from 15 percent to 20 percent more devotees this year.
Valencia said the increase in the number of devotees joining the procession could be gleaned from the throng that visited the Nazarene last Christmas, New Year’s and the First Friday of the month of the year.
He said the calamities of 2013 had strengthened the people’s faith in The Black Nazarene.
The Church has assured that the “andas” [carriage]that will carry the image of the Black Nazarene has been strengthened to prevent breakdowns that delayed previous procession.
Last year, one of the carriage’s wheels gave way because too many people were riding it or trying to climb aboard.
ROBERTZON F. RAMIREZ