MANILA - TV host and vlogger James Deakin has appealed to the Department of Public Works and Highways to stop its planned closure of the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge, also known as the Rockwell Bridge, starting January 12.
In a now viral Facebook post, Deakin enumerated the reasons why there was no urgent need for the bridge to be demolished.
"We really need to talk. I think I speak for the vast majority of affected road users and taxpayers when I say that we desperately need you to postpone and reconsider the scheduled demolition of the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge (Rockwell to Mandaluyong) this Saturday. At least until we have a few things clarified. Please lang," he wrote.
According to Deakin, the planned closure will affect "too many people" and as taxpayers, the public need more details about the project, as well as alternatives should the project push through.
He also said there was no demand for the bridge to be rebuilt, since it was only inaugurated last 2011.
"The fact that the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge was inaugurated in 2011 makes it younger than most of the vehicles that traverse it. Why does it need to be demolished? Not only has it not been proven to be structurally unsound, but it was constructed using Austrian public funds as part of a project that built 19 weather-resistant bridges in the Philippines," Deakin wrote.
Deakin likewise lamented how around 100,000 cars would need to find new routes to get to their destination.
"The 30-month construction time: Loosely translated, that’s 100,000 cars a day that need to find a new way for a 1000 days. In the most densely populated city on earth. Think about that for a moment. How will this be managed? Especially since there’s also a scheduled rehab of the Guadalupe bridge this coming April to address cracks and structural integrity. So far, we have not seen any viable rerouting schemes," he wrote.
Aside from causing traffic jams in the areas affected by the closure, Deakin raised the issue of the partners for the reconstruction project.
"If it is indeed true that the partners for this reconstruction project are CCCC Highway Consultant Ltd. and its subsidiary China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), these two Chinese companies have been blacklisted by the World Bank for fraudulent practices in another infrastructure project, the Philippines National Roads Improvement and Management Project. How is this okay now?" he wrote.
According to Deakin, the issues he raised was a summary of all the concerns he received from affected residents.
He also asked the government to pay attention to the concerns of those who will be affected by the reconstruction project.
"And all we are asking is that you pause for a moment and take time to read it thoroughly and then explain it to us, the actual stakeholders, so both sides can decide whether it is worth the pain or if there’s a better alternative. Basically, I’m simply giving you an opportunity to connect to the people that actually matter. Or building a bridge, if you will. Please don't burn it. #ifitaintbrokedontfixit," Deakin wrote.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) earlier announced the project will commence January 12.
The project, which was supposed to start in September 2018, sought to widen the bridge to four lanes from its present two lanes.
The DPWH said the project is expected to be completed by 2021.
Over 100,000 motorists use the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge which connects Mandaluyong City and Makati City's posh Rockwell area.
Twelve new bridges including the construction of a new Estrella–Pantaleon bridge were proposed under the government’s traffic management plan to further ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila.
The DPWH earlier said the reconstruction of the bridge would help ease traffic and ensure public safety.