NEWS / Philippines implements controversial bridge programme

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The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in the Philipinnes is to pursue the implementation of the president bridge programme despite concerns about overpricing of the materials.

DPWH said that most of the bridges on national roads are only temporary structures and need to be rehabilitated.

Infrastructure integrity watchdog InfraWatch had recently asked the ombudsman to conduct an investigation of the programme - a project implemented by the previous administration. The investigation centred on alleged overpricing of bridge materials.

“We have to continue the project because the contract has already been signed by the government and the bridge materials have been delivered to the country already,” said DPWH secretary Rogelio Singson.

The delivered materials for the foreign-assisted bridge programme are currently stored in two depots. “All bridge materials have already been delivered, and we thought it best to use these in implementing the project rather than leaving the materials to rot in the depots,” said Singson.

“We realize that there is a problem in terms of pricing so we are leaving that to the ombudsman or COA (Commission on Audit) to determine who are culpable or who are going to be responsible (for the anomalies),” he said. “But as far as I’m concerned we are just putting these materials into good use.”

"All primary national roads will be paved and upgraded by 2014 and the rest of our national road by 2016," he added, based on DPWH program targets. "By then, there should no longer be bridges made of wood along national roads, and national bridges should already be in perfect shape," he said.

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