By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The contractor for the construction of a condominium here had to bring down a section of the newly paved Gibraltar road, near Good Shepherd Convent and the Mines View Park last May 11 after the soil underneath eroded.
Only one lane is currently being used by motorists in the area and buses are now banned from using this road.
Engr. Margarita Balcita of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Baguio said Suntrust Properties, Inc., owners and contractors of the condiminium project was granted permission to bring down the section of the road left hanging after soil underneath eroded again.
“Given the situation, collapsing the hanging road pavement was best for the safety of the workers who were supposed to build the slope protection,” Balcita said.
Balcita said that the section that had to be collapsed was part of the Gibraltar road repairs the DPWH finished just this January.
“The company was granted permission to collapse the road with the condition that they will restore everything that was destroyed due to the erosion,” Balcita said.
Balcita said the company has to restore the seven meter wide and around 20 meters long road section; the two meter wide sidewalk; drainage and sewer lines.
“The fact that the section of the road did not fall despite the soil erosion underneath is enough proof that the road was made to last,” she said.
Gibraltar road is classified as a secondary national road.
Balcita said there had been continuing erosion in the area since June of 2016 until April this year. She said that the earth moving activities of the company coupled with the heavy rains triggered the erosion.
Balcita said the company was instructed to stabilize the slope to prevent the soil holding the road from eroding. She said the first erosion was recorded in June when the shotcreting work of the company failed to hold the soil and water due to heavy rains. She said that there were erosion recorded in the following months until October, and in January and April this year.
In October 2016, Engr. Alexander Castaneda, DPWH Baguio district engineer wrote Andrew Tan, chairman of the board and president of Suntrust demanding the latter to immediately address the continuing erosion.
“In view hereof, may we demand your company to restore immediately your slope protection to resolve complaints and inconvinience of travelling public considering that influx of visitors is expected during the holidays,” Castaneda said in his letter.
The residents and sisters of the Good Shepherd Convent have been complaining about the Suntrust construction since 2015.
According to an April 8 letter of the Good Shepherd Convent, the retaining wall had been rebuilt 4 times by the condominium developer, following complaints made by the community about the project’s impact on the road, to the vehicular traffic in the area and dangers it poses on residents and tourists.
Mines View Park and Good Shepherd are among the top tourist destinations in the city.
In 2015, tower residents led by president, Jose Palma formally opposed the expansion of the Suntrust project.
In their opposition letter given to city hall, the residents complained about lack of prior consultation in the barangay level, illegal tree cutting, undermining community resources, traffic congestion and a compromised health of residents plus loss of business.
The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) issued an Environmental Compliance Certificate to Suntrust for the construction of Suntrust 88 Gibraltar Project in 2014. # nordis.net