Cam Nortenos decry economic cost of Sta. Elena bridge reconstruction delay

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DAET, Camarines Norte -- The delay in the construction of the Php35.5-million permanent bridge and the new detour bridge in Barangay Kabuluan in Sta. Elena in this province has increased overhead costs in terms of additional fuel expenses amounting to thousands of pesos per truck, according to entrepreneurs in the trucking business here.

Roland Nuñez, who dispatches three to four 10-wheeler trucks to Metro Manila from Daet town every working day, lamented that he has to spend an additional Php2,000-Php3,000 per truck for fuel alone because of the longer route to take.

Rodolfo Camara Jr., another entrepreneur in the trucking business who hails from Jose Panganiban town, said he spends Php4,000-Php5,000 more for fuel per truck dispatched to Metro Manila while the bridge is still to be constructed.

Nuñez said the trucks have to take a long looping route going to the Quirino Highway from Daet to Sipocot town in Camarines Sur province which, he said, takes an additional 200 kilometers of travel to Metro Manila.

Before the destruction of the detour bridge in Kabuluan three months ago, his trucks from Metro Manila would arrive at 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. every day but at present, Nuñez’s trucks arrive at his establishment along the diversion road here at 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Nuñez and Camara said that aside from the additional expenses in fuel, they also incur additional expenses for the workers who have to be provided additional travel allowance.

They lamented that the snail-pace implementation of Kabuluan Bridge project will make them suffer more losses in their business.

Sta. Elena Councilor Artemio B. Sendon Jr. said they believe the Bemkar Construction, which is undertaking the project, has accomplished less than 60 percent of what it claimed.

Sendon said the issue regarding the construction of the Kabuluan Bridge surfaced after the detour bridge was washed out on Sept. 18, which caught the attention of the town council to investigate why the construction took too long.

He said an inspection of the project had been conducted with the participation of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Camarines Norte First District Engineering Office, Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE), Sta. Elena municipal engineer, the town council and local transport groups.

Sendon said the report that the contractor had already collected 60 percent of the project cost worries the council members who fear that the project may not be realized in the soonest possible time.

Johnny Genova, PICE representative, told the inspection group that the detour bridge was constructed below standard and the design was not apt, that’s why it was easily washed out.

Genova said they have also noted that there were only about four laborers there seemingly working for the bridge construction when they conducted the unannounced inspection as he wondered how the construction of the permanent bridge could move on.

Sendon noted that in Kabuluan proper, the price of copra was lower at Php6/kilo on the other side of the river, but upon crossing the river going to the town center, the copra is bought at Php9/kilo.

He said commuters have to shell out more money for fare just to reach their homes at nighttime because they cannot complain of the higher fare the tricycle drivers demand from their passengers since the vehicles have to cross the river to reach the other side. (PNA)

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