LEGAZPI CITY –- The public works and highways department is almost set to start the expansion to four lanes of the Yawa bridge here at a cost of P140 million.
According to public works Bicol assistant regional director Armando Estrella, the initial amount of P50 million is now ready, hoping that by next year the remaining P90 million will be readily available for the continuation of the project.
The Yawa bridge is 136.6 meters in length which connects the barangays of Bonot and Rawis.
Estrella explained that the widening of Yawa bridge to four lanes would not hamper the flow of traffic during construction.
He admitted the bidding of the P50 million project has yet to be scheduled as the removal of the power and water supply lines will still have to be undertaken by the Albay Power Energy Corporation and the Legazpi City Water District.
The city government has promised to take care of the demolition of the affected residences but which until now remains not acted upon.
Estrella cautions that with non removal of the obstructions soon, there is a chance the funding will be reverted to the national treasury.
In the past the Yawa bridge has been the center of controversy when in 1999 the DPWH ordered its reconstruction in the absence of any valid defects. Subsequently, reconstruction was pushed through despite the disagreement between the provincial council and the regional public works office.
Another source of friction was the dredging work done on the river.
Even the Diocese of Legazpi deplored the indiscriminate funding for dredging which cost billions of pesos, declaring the river as a virtual monstrous source of kickbacks by politicians and public works officials.
Ex-governor Fernando Gonzalez lamented the billions of pesos spent for dredging which accomplished only 25 per cent but did not help sustain the flood flow towards its intended path. During the November 2006 Typhoon Reming, close to 2,000 people perished from the flood. (From ONA report by Manilyn Ugalde)