Rough Cuts: Are elevators in overpasses rusting?

We have taken this issue up in this column of ours for at least two times already. And we are taking this up again.

We are referring to the installation of elevators in some of the city’s overpasses like the ones in Mintal and in Calinan. Yes, based on the billboard put up on the vicinity of the project location when its construction was ongoing, the cost of each overpass was in the range of P14 to P15 million. Out of these amounts between P4 to P5 million was allocated for the cost of the elevator and its installation.

Actually, the idea of putting the lift is a noble one. The lifting equipment is supposedly to help the elderly among pedestrians as well as those who would take the overpass in crossing roads and highways carrying with them a lot of baggage that could be too heavy for them to carry using the stairs.

Let us just take two of these overpasses as example since we did not have enough time to make a round of Davao City to check on the other similar projects of the government.

In the case of the Mintal overpass, we have observed that the formal turnover of the project to the government took some time. Some of the metal sheets that divide each step of the stairs were already detached when the pedestrians were allowed to use the overpass.

We also noticed that the elevator was not operational, reason why through this space we called the attention of the concerned government agencies to look into the matter. After all, why put up such a costly component of the project if it cannot be used by the public for which the overpass is to serve.

After some time, we noted that the elevator facility was opened and the Mintal pedestrian started using the same. Of late we had the opportunity to be in that part of Mintal for a longer period giving us enough time to observe people — mostly students and market goers — crossing from one side of the highway to the other. It was apparent that the pedestrians were climbing up the stairs and we did not see convergence of people at the elevator door.

Anyare? The elevator is not functioning again? Is it intentionally made not to function? We do not know exactly which of the two questions we pose here is correct. But whatever, if the lift is not being used even by those who are supposed to be the main beneficiaries of its installation, then there is some kind of a disconnect here. Somehow, the elevator component does not make any sense if it is part of the overall project but is not harnessed to its maximum use.

Then we have the Calinan overpass which, like the one in Mintal, is intended to help pedestrians — mostly market goers — cross that busy portion of the Davao-Bukidnon Highway. When the project was finally opened to the public it already look more an old than a new project. And like its Mintal counterpart, the Calinan overpass also has its elevator component.

We also have the same observation as to the elevator’s use by its intended beneficiaries — the elderly, the physically challenge, women with babies “on board” (pregnant ba), and those carrying heavy baggage with them.

There were times also when we have observed the elevator was in use. But many seem hesitant to use it. In the many Sundays that we go to Calinan to do the family’s marketing for our week’s household supplies, we haven’t seen a single person entering the elevator door. Neither was the door opened even once.

On one hand we suspect that even if the lift is functional many are apprehensive in using the same. First there is no one assigned to operate the elevator and assist those who would want to use them. Second, the pedestrian may have continuously entertained doubts that the elevator is not operational because there is not even any single signage advising the people on the status of the lifting equipment.

Hence, there is this possibility that likely users of the overpass elevators may be thinking of their helplessness should they be trapped inside.

On another, we cannot help but entertain this notion that the local government of Davao City is not prepared to assume the cost of hiring “job order” worker to man the elevator in every overpass that has it. Moreover, we sense that the city is not willing to shoulder the additional electricity bill that would be brought about by the regular use of the elevators in those overpasses. Meanwhile, the elevators could be rusting by now. And soon enough the lifts will have to be discarded permanently. Remember, rust never sleeps. It keeps on destroying.

Imagine how much additional kilowatt hours are added to the city’s power consumption had all those elevators in the overpass project been maximized as to its purpose?

But again, how come the proponents of the overpass projects with elevator component failed to factor the above consequences before finally coming out with a more viable project design? Maybe it is worth asking which government unit is behind the project, the national government through the Congressional offices? Or, is it the local government?

Let’s allow our individual imagination to fly and find answers to whatever questions there are in our minds.

Posted in Opinion