Who doesn't like having better and wider roads? Not only do they help in decongesting traffic, but they also serve to provide improved access for motorists.
But have you ever wondered why there are still electric or utility poles obstructing several roads?
Well to put it plainly, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said that these are caused by Right-Of-Way (ROW) problems. Speaking to Anna Mae Lamentillo, Chairperson for the government's Build, Build, Build program, she said that ROW acquisitions are just one of the major sources of delay in replacing electric poles along widened roadways.
In order to hasten the process, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar made revisions in processing ROW problems, as well as assign task forces that can directly help in legal matters . That way, the DPWH can immediately start on new projects while also removing / replacing utility poles and other obstructions out of the way.
However, Lamentillo did mention that are also many factors that hinder the removal or replacement of these infrastructures. For starters, there's the matter on who will shoulder the fee of having to move the utility poles from one place to another. There's also the matter if the poles are situated on private property or along national roads which can also be sources of legal hurdles. For now, the DPWH treats each problem on a case-to-case basis due to the many factors surrounding each one.
Lamentillo also mentioned that if they have to move electrical poles put up by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), they are only allowed to move one a day.
“Not only are these poles huge, they are also specialized equipment that provide power to numerous businesses and homes. Having to move several of these poles will cause masssive power disruption, hence why we're only allowed to move one per day,” added Lamentillo.
Despite the setbacks, the DPWH wants to keep moving forward and continue making projects at a faster pace. For now, the government agency has resorted in having specific task forces for each project so as to make finishing legal processes quicker. This means the DPWH now has task forces assigned to NLEX, Skyway, SLEX, and many other major programs.
“The problems in Skyway is different from the problems in Harbor Link. Our old way of having a centralized processing of ROW proved to be slow and inadequate. That's why we had to decentralize it and equipped our DPWH district offices with lawyers that can immediately solve ROW problems,” said Lamentillo.
Should the new ROW processes prove to be faster and quicker, the DPWH is hoping that there will be no more roads in the future that will still come with obstructions.