Thursday, May 22, 2008

At Last?

After the World Bank scratched a loan package for the Philippines which included almost a billion pesos worth of road infrastructure projects for the Surigao del Sur area some time ago, local residents in the Lianga area have almost lost all hope that they would, at least within their lifetime, be able to experience what it is like to travel on modern, concrete paved roads and highways. The fact that the said loan package was withdrawn because of allegations of bidding irregularities, excessive overpricing of materials and other anomalous issues served only to strengthen the general conviction here that the road network serving the Lianga area would probably remain one of the most dilapidated and most poorly maintained road systems in the country for years to come.

That may no longer be the case soon if we are to believe the promises coming from the provincial government in Tandag and the local offices of the government's Department of Public Works and Highways. It seems that national government funding for the concreting of the national highway road network in the Lianga - San Agustin - Marihatag area has already been approved and that actual work on the massive project will be commencing soon. In fact, according to DPWH officials, preparatory work has already began and that the entire project is slated for completion before the end of 2010.

That may be true but the truth of the matter is that if residents of the above mentioned municipalities are more than a bit impatient to see the actual road concreting work to begin they could not be blamed for being less than forbearing. They have gone through decades of false promises from a whole generation of politicians who all have promised them a modern highway system and had been rebuffed time and time again.

Instead they become witnesses to their duly elected officials and their minions wrangling and bickering over who should get the lion's share of the project's kickbacks and bribes and causing its implementation to be postponed and delayed repeatedly. It was only recently that the national government has taken cognizance its importance and has finally allocated the necessary funding needed to complete it.

Now that the residents of this part of Surigao del Sur may finally see the realization of what they have long asked for, they can be excused for being anxious to see the job started soon, that it be done right and quickly, and completed on schedule with the minimum of fuss and delay. Anything less would not be in any way acceptable. The cost in terms of the delayed economic progress and advancement of a huge section of the province has already been astronomical.

Better late than never. That may be what some old-timers here are saying. Well and good then but this is one absolutely essential project that has been more than late and may still run into problems (political or otherwise) before it can be really be called finished and completed.

And until that time comes, I, and most of the local folk here, could not be faulted for crossing our fingers and doing some knocking on wood. Superstition or not, every little bit of good luck might do some good in the long run for an undertaking that seems to be more than a bit jinxed even before it has even started.

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