Issue of February 3, 2019
     
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2018
Panagbenga Flower Festival
 
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WEEK'S MAIL
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"Engineering stupidity" still reigns in Kennon Road repair
JUNIPER DOMINGUEZ, Sabangan, Mountain Province

The front page photos of Kennon Road published in the Jan. 27 issue of the Courier seems to me a bit puzzling on why three sections of the road caved in. The only factual repair job being done along Kennon Road is the new bridge appearing as inset photo.

I repeat for the nth time, almost all the slides have occurred in the intermittent minimal widening sections during the onslaught of the past typhoons and prolonged monsoon rains that caused the seven months closure of Kennon Road.

Why?

Geologists, environmental scientists, and engineers say that one of the causes of mountain erosion is disturbing the slope stability through excavations, and that is what these enterprising engineers of the Department of Public Works and Highways did. In previous studies, the disturbed stable mountain slopes will reach stability in 30 to 35 years. This means that Kennon Road will be in a close-open situation for the next 30 to 35 years.

People 50 years old and above who had been using the Kennon Road in the 1970’s when Marcos Highway was not yet born as a road are the living witnesses that Kennon Road was the main access to the lowlands up to Metro Manila.

True to its description then, Kennon Road was an engineering marvel, for how did the Filipino and foreign laborers constructed the road without the modern excavators, bulldozers and payloaders in 1901? Since it was opened to vehicular traffic, big and small vehicles traverse it with ease. The strongest typhoons, which I could remember, were typhoons Trining and Wilming but never was Kennon Road closed for even a month.

The longest closure of Kennon Road was after the 1990 killer quake, but I think it was closed for only more or less than two months. It was an act of God.

But now comes the DPWH where Kennon Road is one of the epitomes of “engineering stupidity.” The problem is an act of man.

Then comes an inexplicable action of Baguio Rep. Mark Go sponsoring House Bill 7502 declaring Kennon Road as a heritage area. The beauty and wonderful sites of Kennon Road since its construction in 1901 has been erased starting from the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III when huge funds were allocated to rehabilitate the road. But looking at Kennon Road today, can we call it a heritage area?

To the Cordillera Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, I am not an engineer but may I suggest that Kennon Road should not be opened on Feb. 14 just to accommodate visitors for the Panagbenga and Philippine Military Academy Alumni Homecoming because “it is an accident waiting to happen.”

Those concerned should consider the saying: “Kapag nagbiro ang tadhana, napakasakit.”

Lastly, I can prove my point about this “engineering stupidity” by the DPWH because I have filed complaints against agency officials at the Office of the Ombudsman.

 
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