Duterte’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ solves 40-year-old ROW problem



Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

When the construction of Mindanao Avenue Extension started, Melvin Navarro was a fresh graduate from college. Year after year — he would pass by the same alignment, which if completed would connect North Caloocan to both the North Luzon Expressway and Quezon City. Little did he know he’d be completing the project almost 40 years after.

The problem of right of way  has hounded many infrastructure projects for decades. As early as 2016, when the Duterte administration launched the “Build, Build, Build” program, we knew that there would be challenges and bottlenecks. At the onset, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar instituted key reforms in the right-of-way processes, including the issuance of an administrative order creating Right-of-Way Task Forces for each of the projects being implemented. He also decentralized the ROW acquisition functions and delegated the duties and responsibilities to the various implementing units. Prior to this, regional offices were not capacitated with their own right-of-way division and were dependent only on legal support provided by the Central Office.

Reforms have since borne fruit as DPWH resumed construction of a number of projects dating back to as early as 40 years ago.

For instance, the Mindanao Avenue Extension, a project which has started in the early 1980s and which was only resumed in 2017, is almost complete and will be accessible by second quarter of 2019. When completed, the 2.7-kilometer project will improve traffic flow in the cities of Novaliches, Valenzuela, and Caloocan.

It took six presidents to complete Radial Road 10 (R-10), a road traversing the old Smokey Mountain. Now, the 9.7-kilometer R-10 stretching from Delpan Bridge, Tondo, Manila, to the mouth of the Malabon River at Bangkulasi Bridge, C-4 Road in Navotas City may be used as an alternate route to EDSA and C5 for motorists travelling from Quezon City to Manila and Pasay.

Since the issuance of DO 65 last May, DPWH has also acquired 100% possession of site of the NLEX Harbor Link Project Segment 10, after a span of one year and seven months. Prior to this, acquisition was only at 1% per month. The 5.65-km elevated expressway traversing the NLEX from MacArthur Highway in Karuhatan, Valenzuela City, passing through Malabon City and C3 Road in Caloocan City will reduce travel time from Quezon City to Manila to approximately 10 minutes.

In Mindanao, we also opened Cagayan de Oro Coastal Road, a project which was first funded in 1997. Now, the 12.77 KM serves as a bypass road starting from Brgy. Gusa in the eastern side all the way to the western side in Brgy. Igpit, Opol, in Misamis Oriental, thus connecting six barangays in the city and two barangays in Opol.

Reforms in DPWH

Apart from the Infra-Track App, which detects ghost project real time through geotagging, DPWH has instituted a number of reforms in the department to ensure efficient delivery of infrastructure.

As early as when the system detects a 5% negative slippage — the contractor involved in the project will be given a warning and required to submit a “catch-up program” to eliminate the slippage or delay.

If such slippage furthers to at least 10%, he will be given a second warning and required to submit a detailed action program on a two-week basis, which commits him to accelerate the work and accomplish specific physical targets which reduce the slippage over a defined time period. The contractor will be  instructed to specify the additional input resources – money, manpower, materials, machines, and management, which he should mobilize for this action program.

At any point that such contractor incurs a delay of at least 15%, he will be given a final warning and required to come up with a more detailed program of activities with weekly physical targets, together with the required additional input resources. On-site supervision will be intensified, and evaluation of project performance will be done at least once a week. At the same time, the project manager, district engineer, or regional director shall also prepare a contingency plan for the termination or rescission of the contract and or takeover of the work by administration or contract.

Moreover, all contractors with ongoing DPWH contracts which have incurred negative slippages of 15% or more, have been pre-disqualified from future biddings until after the negative slippage have been reduced to less than 15%. No time suspensions are also provided without the prior approval of the secretary or the undersecretary in charge. Negligence or inexcusable failure of the contractor to provide the required equipment, supplies, or materials are also not tolerated.