Disaster resistant bridges needed after Negros quake

Katherine Visconti
The Department of Public Works and Highways wants to invest in disaster resistant bridges after 20 bridges were destroyed by the 6.9 magnitude earthquake in Negros Oriental in early February

MANILA, Philippines – One urgent lesson from the February 6 earthquake that rocked Negros Oriental is this: The Philippines need disaster-resistant bridges.

The 6.9 magnitude earthquake destroyed at least 20 bridges, noted Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson at a seminar on private-public partnerships hosted by Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) on Friday, February 17.

“Most of the bridges that were destroyed, more or less we know what happened there. They were steel bridges, very rigid bridges. We might end up having to study what kind of design will be more resilient to earthquakes,” he said.

Singson pointed out that investing in disaster resistant infrastructure is crucial because of the Philippines earthquake prone position on the Pacific Ring of Fire.

The DPWH’s 2010 Annual Report showed that about 6.5% of the 334,325 lineal meters of bridges in the country need to be rehabilitated, reconstructed or transformed from temporary to permanent structures.

Singson said a solution is in sight.

The road ahead

“We still have a long way to go in terms of completing our bridges so we are putting together a PPP (public-private partnership) for bridges nationwide,” he said.

He disclosed to Rappler that the target bid date for the nationwide PPP for bridges would be in October 2012.

Before projects could be auctioned off, however, a study on how best to roll out a disaster resistant technology on bridges will have to be complete.

He shared that the Research, Education and Institutional Development Foundation Inc. already prepared a business case study recommending 139 bridges in Luzon.

To Singson, the more input the better. But considering that Japan also has disaster experiences, he said the Philippines can learn from Japan’s disaster resistant technology.

“I know that they have very good technology in terms of earthquake resistant infrastructure so we would like to learn from them,” he said.

“We cannot settle for conventional way of constructing roads and bridges, we will have to adopt more disaster resistant technologies,” he stressed. – Rappler.com

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