ROUGH CUTS| Do proactive inspection, assessment

THERE are two pedestrian overpass projects that seem to have been completed already. But as to whether these are formally turned over to and accepted by the government we are not certain. The reason is that even if the two projects look like totally built we have not seen any formal announcement that these are already open for public use. This despite the fact that the projects have long passed the time-table of completion.

We are actually referring to the pedestrian overpasses constructed in Mintal crossing the highway right in front of the public market and Mintal Elementary School, and the one in Calinan also fronting the public market.

Each of the pedestrian overpasses costs the government around P15 million and it has an elevator which we assume, is intended for pedestrians carrying heavy baggage, and the elderlies who may not anymore be strong enough to climb the steep stairs.

In the many instances that we happened to do some waiting in the vicinity of these overpasses while the wife was doing some marketing or buying some items in nearby stores, we have only seen a handful of people using the pedestrian overpasses. Many still brave the risk of being caught by traffic enforcers or  hit by moving vehicles while crossing the prohibited area of the highway.

We can understand because most marketgoers come out of the market with heavy items they bought. And they’d rather choose crossing the more dangerous highway than going up the overpass.

This situation somehow leads us to raise the quenstion: “Has the elevator been installed? If it is already in place why is it not being used?”

We believe that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH, if it is a national government projects), or the City Engineer’s Office (if the projects are implemented by the city government of Davao) is long overdue in informing the public of the status of the projects herein-mentioned. The people are the source of the money that is used to fund the projects. It is the moral obligation of either of the two agencies to apprise the Davaoenos the real status of the two pedestrian overpasses.

And we are expecting the agencies’ action the soonest possible time. Unless the officials of the agencies concerned are hiding something anent the projects or are callous enough to ignore the people’s demand.

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A little less than five years since the 7.2 magnitude earthquake leveled the province of Bohol and rocked other nearby provinces, a 6.7 temblor shaked the province of Surigao del Norte with the worst destruction in Surigao City at around 10 in the evening of last Friday, February 9, 2017.

Eight people were reported dead by the province’s disaster and risk reduction management office with some 200 people injured. Thousands of families evacuated to what they thought are safer grounds even as government infrastructures, school buildings, private houses and medical facilities are declared off-limits pending final assessment by authorities as to their safety for re-occupation.

Power, water and even telecommunication services were affected and many areas in the province are still without power and potable water supply. The city’s airport has been ordered closed for at least a month because of the destruction of the runway and some portion of the terminal facility.

Meanwhile, the people tasked to inspect the affected buildings to determine whether these can still be used with some assurance of safety, are members of the Association of Structural Engineers of the Philippines (ASEP) mostly coming from Davao City.

This brings to mind the hard reality that until now sciences has not yet discovered a way of predicting when the next big earthquake will strike and where. And it is common knowledge that our own Davao City is located not far from the Philippine fault that is seen as a potential trigger for a major earthquake in any of the provinces or cities that happened to be located over or along its path.

We believe therefore that with the Bohol and Surigao del Norte disastrous incidents our Davao City officials must take some lessons from those calamitous phenomena. It is time for the local government to initiate some proactive moves to ensure that should the “big one” strike Davao (God forbids) we would not be as helpless as the people of the two province disaster sites.

We are therefore very strongly recommending that the city, thorugh the City Engineer’s Office (CEO) and the City Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO),   with support from well-meaning members of the ASEP in Davao initiate inspection and assessment of old and new buildings.  The inspection team must suggest to local regulators measures to raise to the standard needed folr buildings to withstand earthquakes  when any is found wanting.

For is it not ironic that our structural engineers are being called upon to help assess the safetiness of the structures in Surigao City after it was hit by a strong quake while no such inspection and asssessment is being done in Davao City while it is still spared by the “big one?”

Or, should our local officials continue the habit of making the sign of the cross during or immediately after a lightning strikes? Tell the people please.

Posted in Opinion