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PIA Press Release

Ebdane orders replacement of defective pavements along Halsema highway

by Andrew Doga-ong

BONTOC, Mt. Province (14 September) -- Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane ordered the removal and replacement of defective pavements found in ten contracts of the Phase II and III of the Halsema Road improvement project, particularly along the Mt Data, Bauko - Bontoc and Bontoc, Mt Province - Banaue, Ifugao road sections.

Ebdane gave the directive during his second surprise monitoring and inspection of the multi-million flagship program of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the province last Wednesday, September 12. The secretary made his first on-site inspection of the project last July 10.

In a briefing at the Mt Province Engineering District conference hall, Ebdane said his office received numerous complaints from the people of Mt. Province blaming the DPWH on what they claim as anomalous implementation of the President's projects. He reminded the field engineers that DPWH is accountable to the people and that they should strictly supervise the implementation of the projects properly.

Motoring from Bontoc to Sabangan and noticing the glaring quality of work that failed in the coring test, Ebdane directed that those substandard pavements will be removed and replaced by the contractors concerned at their own expense as he instructed the project engineers to strictly supervise the removal of the defective pavements.

The Secretary also ordered the regional and MPED officials to temporarily stop the implementation of the contracts in question until the defective pavements are replaced warning that contractors who refused to correct their works at their own expense will be a ground for the termination of their contracts and a filling of necessary case against them depending on the circumstances.

"Remember this is the President's priority project and the bottom line is we have to finish it but of course we have to do it properly," the Secretary said.

Ebdane also warned field engineers not to be remiss on their duties as he observed that most project engineers are "spiritually present but physically absent" in their assigned projects which usually resulted to anomalous implementation. He also aired his observation that contractors do not have licensed engineer much less no knowledge on quality control.

Noting the present 52 contracts in the Mt. Data-Bontoc section, Ebdane directed DPWH regional director Mariano Alquiza not to allow sectioning or sub-contracting (chop-chop) in the next projects of the Halsema highway.

Alquiza cited the use of dirty aggregates hauled at the Chico River and dump along the dusty or muddy roads where batching plants are erected and the lack of projects engineers to supervise the various contracts as additional reasons for having inferior projects.

With Ebdane and Alquiza in the monitoring of the on-going Halsema road improvement projects include DPWH Assistant Secretary Ramon Aquino, Benguet II District Engineer Alexander Castaneda, MPED Engineer Leonardo Leyaley, Eng'r Albert Gahid, President's flagship project coordinator in CAR, Mt. Province PNP Provincial Director Jim Cid, Project Engineers from the MPED and regional office and some local Sabangan.

The group witness the initial removal of the defective pavement at sitio Paling, Tambigan, Sabangan.

Malacanang and the DPWH earlier sent their respective monitoring and fact-finding teams to validate complaints received by the two offices on the alleged anomalies in the implementation of these priority projects. The teams were tasked to investigate, come up with findings and recommendations to correct the reported anomalous implementation of the Super Region projects.

Based on the fact finding team investigation and the result of the quality standard tests conducted in various concreting works mostly located in the Mt Province road section, 10 pavement contracts failed in the coring test, the random sampling of concrete mix to determine the pavement's comprehensive strength. (PIA MP) [top]

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