DPWH-CAR: ‘Budget shortfall hampers Kennon Road rehab’

The full rehabilitation of Kennon Road is stalled due to limited funds, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways- Cordillera Administrative Region (DPWH-CAR).
In a dialogue with the city council last Monday, DPWH-CAR Engr. Arnold Dacwag said targets of completion for some of the projects were not met due to the limited funds released annually.
“We do not have control over the release of funds every year. If we could dictate, we could have met all our targets. Right now, we make do with the limited funds given to the regional office,” Dacwag explained.
Dacwag said they are still awaiting the release of funds for the rehabilitation of five critical sections at Kennon Road which are supposed to commence this year. These five sections are located at Camp 3, Camp 4, Camp 5, and Camp 6 at Tuba, Benguet.
Dacwag hoped the amount needed to complete these five projects will be included in the budget of the regional office for Year 2022. The estimated amount needed for these projects is around 850 million pesos, he added.
These five projects are among the 21 critical projects that need to be completed before the historic Kennon Road will be made fully operational.
These critical projects include the rehabilitation/reconstruction of roads with slips, road collapse, and landslides; rock netting/slope protection; replacement or reconstruction of demonstration bridge; rehabilitation/channel excavation along Bued River; and flood control along Bued River.
Based on the data presented by Dacwag to the city council, only eight of these 21 projects have been completed to date since Year 2020.
Dacwag stated that a total amount of 3.2 billion has already been spent for the projects at Kennon Road undertaken since 2017 to present.
Kennon Road has remained closed for rehabilitation work since September 2018 due to the damages caused by Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut).
According to Office of the Civil Defense-Car Regional Director Albert Mogol, the indefinite closure of Kennon Road would ensure the safety of the motorists and would expedite the completion of work.
Mogol explained that both lanes of Kennon Road are passable only when there are requests to open it during special occasions and celebrations such as the Panagbenga Festival and the Philippine Military Academy’s Homecoming. Before the scenic highway is used by tourists, the Interagency Kennon Road Task Force ensures that the road is safe, he added.
The city council stressed that the rehabilitation of the access road should be fast-tracked as residents in the locality have been clamoring for its reopening.
Councilor Joel Alangsab relayed to the representatives of the DPWH-CAR and DPWH-Baguio City District Engineering Office his observation that there does not seem to be any sense of urgency in completing the rehabilitation work at Kennon Road as shown by the lack of workers in the construction sites.
The city council and the OCD-CAR agreed to undertake a joint inspection on these construction sites at Kennon Road which will take place in the second week of May of this year.** Jordan G. Habbiling

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