Mounting calls for probe into Iloilo flyover’s poor, unsafe construction

May 29, 2023 - 6:01 PM
Photo shows pedestrian walking in the road due to heavy traffic in Iloilo on Monday morning, February 6 (Pitik ni Emman/Facebook)

Commuters and motorists are calling for government accountability over the P680-million worth Ungka Flyover they say has inconvenienced them since it opened on Sept. 6, 2022.

Located between the municipalities of Pavia and Jaro in Iloilo City, the 453.7-meter bridge was built to reduce the traveling time between the Iloilo International Airport and other neighboring municipalities in the province.

Several days after it opened to the public, however, complaints were raised over the bridge’s integrity, perceiving it as wobbly and unstable. The road also tends to flood on rainy days despite it being located above the ground.

Last December, Iloilo residents raised their worries that the bridge appeared to be sinking because of its pier foundations.

RELATED: P680-M Iloilo flyover becomes instant footbridge amid traffic woes 

In a recent interview, Roberto Bernardo, undersecretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), said that the department could not determine the stakeholder accountable for the structure’s defects.

“Who’s at fault here? We could not determine who because we followed everything in the plan. I have nothing to tell you. We cannot explain what happened. All we can do now is to give solutions to the problem,” Bernardo was quoted in a report as saying.

The Ungka Flyover was accomplished by a contractor called International Builders Corporation (IBC) in collaboration with the DPWH Central Office’s Bureau of Design.

It was initiated and pushed by former Senator Franklin Drilon, an Iloilo native.

How social media reacted

Several Filipinos, especially residents of Iloilo, took to social media to air their concerns and complaints to DPWH.

They pointed out that the government should be held responsible for the overpass fiasco given that taxpayer money was used to fund its construction.

“So who will hold the accountability for the lost P680 million of the people? Kayo ang binigyan ng kapangyarihan na hawakan at gamitin ang pera ng mga mamamayan para sa mga ganitong tipo ng istruktura, be responsible,” a Twitter user said.

Other social media users speculated on possible oversight or corruption, citing the DPWH and the contractor behind the project.

“Nasa PMO-DPWH ang may kapabayaan, geotechnical problem (soil foundation) hindi nasilip. Sinking means meron unusual settlement ang underlying lupa/foundation,” a Facebook user said.

“Contractor po may kasalanan niyan ngunit may lapses ang DPWH kasi ini-inspection nila dapat ang mga gawaing pambayan kung tama ba o mali, yung timpla ng semento tama ba o kulang,” another Facebook user commented.

Last May 23, several cause-oriented groups in Iloilo also staged a massive rally to demand accountability from the government for their transport predicament.


“A decorative white elephant”

On May 22, Pavia Sangguniang Bayan Member Pyt Trimañez filed a resolution before the Senate urging the chamber to take the initiative in conducting a legislative inquiry into the matter.

Trimañez posted a copy of this resolution on his Facebook account.

“Pavianhons have been inconvenienced by the heavy traffic caused by the closure of Ungka Flyover and the delayed project completion of Aganan Flyover,” the resolution reads.

“All commuters, especially employees and students, are significantly affected for they have to endure more than one hour of travel from Pavia to Iloilo City and vice-versa,” it added.

Trimañez also described the overpass as a “decorative white elephant” in the resolution.

“Government funds have been used to build this gargantuan project to supposedly ease the traffic in the Ungka Pavia area, yet up to now the said infrastructure remains a decorative white elephant which poses safety concerns to the people who traverse underneath the flyover,” he said.