MANILA, Philippines — The government will spend P6.5 billion ($138.71 million) for the rehabilitation and upgrading of provincial roads in 73 provinces in 2016, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said.
The DBM said that the amount has been appropriated in the 2016 General Appropriations Act, with the allocation of funds based on performance.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said that the qualified provinces have not only met good governance standards and social development benchmarks, but have also established monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.
Dubbed KALSADA or Konkreto at Ayos na Lansangan at Daan Tungo sa Pangkalahatang Kaunlaran, Abad said the program is “an innovative devolution program that aims to institutionalize good governance by enabling and shepherding local government units on Local Road Management.”
The program is seen to rehabilitate and upgrade provincial roads and transfer these road assets permanently to the provincial government for maintenance.
Abad said the program will also develop the Provincial Road Network Development Plan (PRNDP) for each province and promote the use of an online open data portal as a mechanism for monitoring and evaluation of provincial roads.
In partnership with the World Bank and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the government has created a system that uses geo-tagging for reporting on the status of the projects.
Through the Open Roads Portal, the public can check online which roads have been selected for rehabilitation or upgrading and track the progress of the road project from start to completion.
The Open Roads Portal will contain the uploaded provincial road network maps, as well as videos of the conditions of priority roads before, during, and after the implementation of KALSADA.
“The KALSADA program gives weight to the words ‘meaningful devolution.’ The national government will provide capital funding to offset road asset depreciation even as local government units (LGUs) rehabilitate long-neglected provincial roads,” the budget chief said.
“With LGUs delivering basic services more effectively by planning and managing their resources more efficiently, we’re able to fully utilize the budget to attain inclusive growth,” Abad added.
For Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, the KALSADA program is “an exemplar” considering that capital funding required to offset road asset depreciation has never been given to provinces.
“Provincial roads are the largest and most important asset being managed by provincial local governments. These road networks link national roads to areas of economic development, allow access to basic services, and serve as important conduits during conflict, crises, and calamities,” Singson said.
“Every time a province undertakes capital works to rehabilitate one kilometer (km) of road, it uses funds that should have funded 4 km of road maintenance. This continuous drain from maintenance funding has effectively cut maintenance funding and asset life-spans in half,” he added.
Singson said that the cumulative cost of lost asset life is P11.1 billion ($236.87 million) per year when computed across all 81 provinces.
Singson also said provincial, arterial roads and farm-to-market roads will get the bulk of infrastructure investment in 2017 after completion of all construction and upgrading of national roads and bridges in 2016.
Likewise, local bridges and roads will be upgraded to ensure the safe use of local infrastructure.
“With the rehabilitation and construction of national roads and bridges throughout the country set to be completed by the end of 2016, arterial provincial roads and farm-to-market roads are next on our priority list,” Singson said.
“The government will need to invest in approximately 180,000-km of local roads, 32,000-km of provincial roads, 15,000-km in cities, 4,000-km in 1,400 municipalities, and about 129,000-km in the 42,000 barangays across the country,” he added.
Singson said that KALSADA is a strategic investment in local roads and bridges infrastructure.
Referred to as the “missing middle,” Singson said the program will have a large impact on making provinces, cities, and municipalities more business-friendly and competitive. — Rappler.com