By Ben Rosario
Making P3.549 billion budget readily available to finance the National Road Lighting Program was not enough to ensure the completion and success of the project that is aimed at providing the country’s national roads modern lighting.
The Commission on Audit made this observation as it released yesterday the 2018 Annual Audit Report for the Road Board that was abolished by Congress last year.
COA also revealed that the graft-ridden agency failed to finish on time or had delivered deficient or incomplete road projects financed through P291.445 million in accumulated road users tax.
“The National Road Lighting Program (NRLP) Packages 6 to 10 implemented by the Road Board in coordination with the Department of Public Works and Highways for a total budget of P3.549 billion, has not fully achieved its objective of providing modern lighting for the country’s national roads through the construction and installation of specially designed lamp posts and luminaires…” COA said.
Auditors blamed the RB for its “poor planning, inadequate guidelines, and insufficient monitoring and supervision schemes” that caused the delay in the full implementation of the project and the non-construction or poorly constructed lampposts”
“Of the 23,560 lamp posts to be installed by 55 District Engineering Offices under DPWH, only 19,328 lampposts were reported actually installed while the remaining 4,232 were suspended due to permit, wiring and RROW (road right of way) issues,” the audit report stated.
An inspection conducted on 13 locations by CA indicated that 72 luminaires were uninstalled, 732 were busted while 233 were “not functioning at all.”
The NRLP that required the installation of 44, 70 and 140 wattage luminaires, was implemented from 2014 to 2016.
To address the issues raised by COA, the audit agency urged the body that will take over the project as a result of the RB’s abolition, to “implement a strong monitoring and supervision system” to guarantee full implementation of the NRLP and avoid delays in the delivery of required outputs.
State auditors said contractors should be directed to immediately replace busted or missing luminaries, adding that the release of funds for the procurement of lumaires under Package 10 should be ensured.
COA also chided the RB for failing to exercise its responsibility to monitor and validate the status of implementation of its various projects.
“IN CY 2018, 17 projects with a total contract cost of P291.445 million were either not completed on time or delivery of outputs were incomplete or deficient or specifications were not followed,’ COA reported.
Among the projects that remained unfinished are the installation of road safety devices in Abra, P5.9 million; fabrication and installation of signages in Batangas, P2.78 million; repair and rehabilitation of the Aguinaldo Highway and Molino Blvd in Cavite, P9.49 million; improvement of drainage of Rosario-San Juan Road in Batangas, P200- million; and various road projects in Compostela Valley and Sultan Kudarat.
“Consequently the delay in project completion resulted in additional man-hours spent on the supervision and monitoring of the project at the level of the implementing offices due to changes made on the timeliness of the projects,” said COA.
Auditors examiners said the agency that will be tasked to carry out the remaining responsibilities of the defunct RB must coordinate with the implementing agencies to address the defects noted in the audit examination.
Contractors were also asked to rectify or refund the deficiencies noted.
“If the contractor refuses, claim the insurance for defects from the surety companies,” the COA said.