POE BLASTS PLANNED CLOSURE OF MAKATIMANDALUYONG BRIDGE, ASKS DPWH TO EXPLAIN

Acting on motorists' complaints, Sen. Grace Poe today pressed government to revisit the merits of replacing the perfectlyworking Rockwell bridge with a Chinafunded one amid allegations that the latter will not bring relief to the 500,000 people who use the Makati to Mandaluyong bridge every day.

Poe also echoed public complaints of "no effective traffic mitigation plan" during the 30 months that the P1.3 billion bridge over the Pasig River will be constructed by a Chinese contractor.

"To add insult to injury," the Chinese contractor, Poe said, is the same stateowned firm assigned to reclaim land in the West Philippine Sea.

China Communications and Construction Corp. "was also banned by the World Bank in 2009 for anomalies related to several multibillionpeso Philippine road projects it had funded," Poe said.

"This is a case of a bridge we may not need, whose construction will inconvenience many for a long time, and is being built by a company who after being banned by the World Bank for bungling a road project here became part of the massive land reclamation in the West Philippine Sea," Poe said.

Poe said officials must answer the observation shared by many groups that the advantages of having a fourlane bridge are cancelled when both ends lead to twolane roads.

"Will this not just create a bottleneck?" she asked.

"If the roads will not be widened then why replace a relatively new bridge with one that is four times its price?" Poe said, comparing the P300 million cost of the present bridge with the reported P1.3 billion price tag of the one to be built by China.

"Ang isa pang issue ay ang kawalan ng alternatibong daanan habang ginagawa ang bagong tulay. This is a major link through which 100,000 vehicles pass daily. Close it and it will worsen the situation in that parking lot called EDSA," Poe said.

Poe said "valid concerns of affected motorists, residents and businesses" would have been threshed out if public consultations were called by the government prior to its acceptance of China's offer to build what is officially called the PantaleonEstrella Bridge.

"It appears that we were lured into accepting this gift without asking ourselves if we need it and if the inconveniences it would cause are worth it. It appears that there was no independent costbenefit analysis done," Poe said.

"Hindi naman po tayo antidevelopment. Ang gusto lang natin maayos at hindi makakasama sa atin. 'Yung hindi donordriven, may people's consultation, at sapat ang feasibility study," Poe said.

The closure of the bridge has been moved from January 12 to January 19 reportedly because the signages for rerouting are not yet complete.

"Again, the issue here is not just the need for signages. They should build another bridge traversing Pasig River before closing one, else, there'll be havoc," Poe said. The closure is set to take effect by January 19.

Source: Senate of the Philippines