Bridge repairs to take longer
(The Freeman) - February 9, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Expect repairs on the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge to take longer after the Department of Public Works and Highways said the contractor of the project cannot yet work on the deck slabs of the bridge for fear of disturbing a main water distribution pipeline.

MCWD's 400mm (16-inch) diameter pipeline, that brings 12,000 cubic meters of water to around half of the households and commercial establishments in Mactan Island daily, is situated right under the bridge.

For now DPWH-7 Regional Director Arnel Canlas said they can only work on repairing the sidewalks of the bridge. Canlas said that if contractors will demolish the deck slab, the support placed on the major MCWD pipe will eventually drop off.

“It’s very risky once you demolish the deck slab,  given the fact that the support they place on that major pipe it would seem  nga hindi siya kaya, baka mahulog siya,” he said.

The night before the contractor decided to open one of the lanes on the bridge, Canlas said they inspected the bridge project and found out there was the main distribution pipe of MCWD.

However, MCWD said the contractor knew about the pipe a long time ago already.

“It was MCWD’s intention to synchronize the pipe support project with the bridge rehabilitation so as not to cause any delay or add to the traffic congestion if both projects will be implemented by two groups," said MCWD acting general manager Noel Dalena in a statement.

MCWD said that in a meeting last November 5, 2015 when DPWH-7 first informed them that the bridge repair was about to start, MCWD no longer had time to bid out a project to rehabilitate the pipe support.

To hasten MCWD’s reaction to the problem, they asked DPWH 7’s project contractor for the bridge repair, Jegma Construction and Development Corp., to undertake the pipe support project.

MCWD said that they made the project design and submitted the proposal to Jegma Construction on December 12, 2015 and regularly asked for updates through phone in the absence of a written reply from the contractor.

MCWD said that the contractor's representatives asked them to wait for their feedback since they had to refer the project proposal to their office in Manila.

However the representatives of the contractor only informed them in a meeting yesterday that they are not capable of doing the project.

"Karon pa sila nagsulti nga di diay sila capable mo-undertake sa pipe support project," said MCWD spokeswoman Charmaine Rodriguez-Kara yesterday.

In accordance with government procurement procedures, MCWD, a government-owned and –controlled corporation, needs to bid out the project and the process will still take months.

"While MCWD understands the urgency of the bridge repair, it cannot sacrifice the safety of inhabitants under the bridge and most importantly, the supply of water to almost 17,000 households and commercial establishments that drive the economy of Mactan island and provide jobs to thousands in Metro Cebu," the statement read.

Barges

Due to the "horrendous traffic flow" in Mandaue City, Cebu City officials suggested for the possible re-operation of the use of barges in transporting vehicles across the Mactan Channel.

This way, Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella said will expectedly reduce the volume of vehicles using Mandaue-Mactan Bridge.

"Noting that the bridge serves as a major connector between mainland Cebu and Mactan Island, specifically Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City, the repairs have brought a horrendous flow of vehicular traffic between these cities," read the letter of Labella to Department of Transportation and Communication Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.

Labella wrote to Abaya after it took him four hour to get to City Hall from the airport where he went to send off his son. He copy furnished his letter to Maritime Industry Authority-7, Philippine Coast Guard Central Visayas, Cebu Port Authority, and Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority for their information.

Other suggestion of Labella includes the possibility of additional ferryboats or more ferryboat trips.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said he is willing to offer the area of South Road Properties for the possible docking area of barges. Rama also called on Cebu Province to help in addressing the issue, saying Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III should take the lead since traffic problem of Mandaue is "everybody's concern."

Yesterday, he said he was lucky when he was heading to the airport for his trip to Manila for the launching of United Nationalist Alliance, saying there was a motorcycle leading his way. He said when he comes back will do his own driving to assess the impact of the repair.

Travel agencies also proposed the use of barge and more ferryboats to transport passengers across the channel.

Consul Robert “Bobby” Lim Joseph, chairman emeritus of the Network of Independent Travel Agencies, brought up the idea during the 888 News Forum at Marco Polo Plaza yesterday.

Joseph said the government and the private sector should meet to decide in developing the ferry service so they could also promote it immediately especially that there is an increase in capacity.

He also suggested for the government to get some subsidies to help the private sector which was supported by sixth district Representative Gabriel Luis “Luigi” Quisumbing who was also a guest during the forum.

The use of barges was also brought up in an emergency meeting with the DPWH-7, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza, Maritime Industry Authority officials, the Cebu Port Authority and shipping companies like Lite Ferries and Gothong.

Both mayors agreed to the use of barges. Radaza said they are currently looking for where the barge and ferryboats should dock at the same time.

DPWH will be talking to resort owners tomorrow if they would allow commuters to dock in their resorts and will secure needed permits from Marina and CPA.

Canlas said there will be ports for the barges but it will depend on Marina and CPA’s suggestion since they will be the one to provide barges and ferries for public transport

Lanes on old bridge opened

DPWH also reopened the closed lane of the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge yesterday. It will stay open until the 15th.

Canlas said the decision was reached during the same emergency meeting.

“Today, we are reopening the bridge, two-way basis. But we will be limiting it to light vehicles only,” Canlas told reporters.

The chief of the Mandaue City Police Office has directed his policemen to coordinate with the Traffic Enforcement Agency of Mandaue to help man the heavy traffic in the area following the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge repairs.

Senior Superintendent Jonathan Cabal, MCPO chief, said he already told the Traffic Patrol Group of MCPO to coordinate with the TEAM as he already saw the need for augmentation from policemen.

“Kung nagawa ng Highway Patrol Group sa EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue in Manila), magagawa rin ng Mandaue police. Siyempre alam din natin ang problema,” said Cabal. — (FREEMAN)

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