Why ‘overpriced’ bridges
This refers to the news article titled, “Probe of ‘overpriced’ bridges sought.” (Inquirer, 11/1/11)
The Mega Bridges for Urban and Rural Development Project involves the construction, installation and establishment of 10 girder-type flyovers and 72 uni-bridges along congested highways and road network nationwide. It uses permanent prefabricated French modular steel technology and is being implemented by the DPWH-President’s Bridge Program Office.
Financed under the ODA Loan through a combination of French Export Credit (Buyer Credit), subject to the approval and to comprehensive cover by the French Export Credit Agency (COFACE) and Tied Commercial Loan, the project went through a rigid review process by all approving authorities such as Neda, DBM, DOF and DOJ, prior to implementation.
Each bridge under this project is custom-designed to suit the natural, social, environmental and local peculiarities of every project site. In addition, each bridge project was subjected to technological, economic and financial feasibility studies to ascertain whether or not it should advance to final engineering and construction stage.
Likewise, the bridge projects have the endorsements of the concerned City Development Council, Provincial Development Council, and Regional Development Council. The DENR has also issued the corresponding Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECC) or Certificate of Non Coverage (CNC) for every project.
The cost of every bridge project is determined by the following:
•The specifications based on physical characteristics such as geotechnical (subsurface conditions which is the basis of the design as well as the foundation) and the bridge’s site (i.e., widening of existing roads, length of approaches, etc.).
• Other attributable costs, such as freight, customs duties, bank interests and fees.
• Payment for consultancy services.
• Construction equipment necessary in the implementation of the project.
Other project attributes considered:
• Technology that requires lower maintenance costs and increases life span up to 50 years (concrete bridges have a 30-year life span).
• Based on DPWH findings, concrete bridge structures up to 30-meters long are cheaper to construct, but it is more cost-efficient to build bridges that are longer than 35 meters with steel components.
• Modular steel bridges can be constructed in four to five months, while concrete structures take about two years.
• Quality of steel bridges is not compromised since they were made in the manufacturer’s factory and checked with milling test, while quality of concrete could vary on location.
• Steel flyovers/bridges have higher reusable value than their concrete counterparts.
To date, out of the 10 flyover projects, three have been completed and seven are undergoing “preengineering works.” Out of the 64 uni-bridges (equivalent to 72 spans), 20 have been completed, 16 are ongoing, 14 are for design approval, and 14 are undergoing preengineering works.
—RAFAEL C. YABUT, undersecretary for PMO operations, Department of Public Works and Highways
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