The Regional Development Council VIII – Regional Project Monitoring Committee (RDC VIII-RPMC) held a problem solving session (PSS) via Zoom on 02 September 2020 to tackle the long-delayed construction of the Samar Pacific Coastal Road Project (SPCRP).

The project was originally slated to be finished by 12 March 2020, but only 41 percent had been accomplished as of August this year. The SPCRP has been delayed several times due to various factors and is now extended until 18 January 2021.

With only four months away from this new target date of completion, the RPMC saw the need to intervene to ensure that the project will be accomplished within the remaining time. The PSS with the project stakeholders and implementers was-called to look into the causes of delay and find solutions to speed up implementation.

The contractor, Ilsung Construction Co., Ltd., explained that the delays are mostly due to the unpredictable weather in the project area. During the project duration, eleven (11) typhoons have hit the site, causing long delays in the implementation.

They also cited the sudden unavailability of aggregates due to the recent moratorium issued by Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez on sand and gravel extraction in the city. Aggregates from Ormoc City were approved for use in the project due to their good quality for construction.

However, officials from the RPMC urged the contractor to find ways to solve these issues, pointing to the fact that they should have known the site conditions during the bidding process and that there are multiple alternative sources of aggregates in the country, pointing to Bicol and Catbalogan as possible sources.

The Committee also pushed for the contractor to submit a suitable catch-up plan and weekly crush programs to ensure that the project is finished by the extended deadline. They also urged the DPWH Unified Project Monitoring Office (UPMO) to constantly follow-up submissions from the contractor and strictly monitor the progress of the project.

RPMC Co-chair and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) VIII Regional Director Imelda C. Laceras cited Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) Circular 03-2019, requiring contractors with over 10 percent slippage to come-up with a detailed catch-up program with weekly physical targets and the required additional input resources.

Slippage is the difference between the actual accomplishment versus the target accomplishment in a particular period.

In addition to this, the Committee further recommended the reactivation of the local project monitoring committees (LPMCS) at the provincial and municipal levels in Northern Samar. Said LPMCS should monitor closely the progress of the project based on the catch-up plan and crush programs. Likewise, a multi-sectoral NGO, the Samar Island Partnership for Peace and Development (SIPPAD), was identified as a third-party monitor by the body.

The RPMC also agreed to help the DPWH and the contractor in acquiring exemptions from the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 for its project managers and construction workers, as well as equipment and materials, from the travel restrictions imposed by some LGUs. This came about because the contractor reported that these travel restrictions are causing further delays due to the slow movement of men and material.

All of the recommendations were accepted by the parties concerned. The DPWH-UPMO, the contractor, the LGU representatives, and SIPPAD, among others, expressed their commitment to help fast-track the project.

The 11.6-kilometer Samar Pacific Coastal Road Project aims to connect Taft, Eastern Samar and the coastal municipalities of Northern Samar with the provincial capital, Catarman without having to pass through the island town of Laoang, which is only accessible through small boats.

The Php 997.5 million project is is a flagship infrastructure project of the Duterte Administration with the DPWH as the implementing agency. It was funded through a loan agreement with the Korean Economic Development Cooperation Fund (KEDCF).

The PSS was facilitated by Acting RPMC Chair and NEDA OIC-Regional Director Meylene Rosales and joined by RPMC Co-Chair Laceras of DBM, along with RDC VIII-RPMC members, RDC private sector representatives, the DPWH VIII, and local stakeholders including Northern Samar 2nd District Representaive Jose L. Ong, Jr. and representatives from the Provinces of Northern and Eastern Samar.

The dialogue was a result of an agreement during the Third Quarter 2020 RDC VIII Virtual Full Council Meeting on 04 August 2020 upon the suggestion of Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone, the project being critical to the development of Samar lsland.

Article by:  Knulp Aseo, NEDA VIII
Photo by: DPWH