SENATE Minority Leader Ralph Recto has urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to deploy “pothole patrols” that will undertake minor road repairs round-the-clock in Metro Manila and other urban centers, “so that small road cracks can be fixed before they become traffic-causing craters.”
Recto said the already slow flow of vehicular traffic in Metro Manila is worsened during the rainy season, when potholes would pockmark roads especially after getting pounded by rain for days.
Recto said the DPWH has “the mandate, the money, and the men” to send out work crews “to search and repair” potholes on a 24-hour basis.
“Hindi naman train ng MRT ang bibilhin dyan. Isang maliit na trak lang na may aspalto at tao para ma-vulcanize ang mga butas sa kalye,” he said.
For this year, DPWH has a budget of at least P40.6 billion to maintain and repair national roads, the senator pointed out.
Another source of funding for “24/7 roving road repair crews,” Recto added, are Motor Vehicle User’s Charge (MVUC) collection which, by law, are earmarked for road maintenance.
Collections from MVUC, which are tucked into car registration fees, are expected to climb to P14.4 billion from last year’s projected P13 billion.
Recto said not all traffic-abatement solutions would require special powers. “Some, like immediately repairing potholes, require common sense.”
“The problem is that sometimes, we seek big-ticket solutions when there are simple remedies at hand,” Recto said.
“Gusto natin kaagad malalaking PPP o ’yung Public-Private Partnership projects, na bilyon ang kailangan at taon ang bibilangin upang matapos,” Recto said, referring to joint ventures to build large public works.
“Pero may ibang klaseng PPP tulad ng ‘Pothole Patching Patrols’, na madali at hindi magastos gawin, na kahit paano ay magdudulot ng ginhawa sa lansangan,” he added.
“In dreaming of large highway projects, we often fail to see the small potholes on the road and forget that these do cause traffic jams,” Recto said.
“Minsan, hindi gumagalaw ang traffic pero ang dahilan pala ay may uka o lubak sa kalye na iniiwasan ng mga motorista,” he said.
Recto said in a megapolis that gets 144 days of rain in a year, “it will be impossible to make roads water-proof, but potholes can be patched immediately.”
Recto had earlier prodded government to ensure that any traffic plan authorized by the grant of presidential emergency powers must include projects that will prevent monstrous gridlocks during rainy days.
Twenty seven percent or 2.31 million out of the 8.7 million motor vehicles in the country ply NCR’s 2,403 kilometers of roads. Not all of the roads are maintained by the DPWH as most are under the care of local governments.