Gov't urged: Inspect Skyway after bus fall

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 27 2011 02:11 PM | Updated as of Jul 27 2011 10:11 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government must conduct an ocular inspection of the Skyway to determine if it remains safe to use after Tuesday's accident involving a bus that fell off the elevated ramp, killing 3 people.

Lawyer Ernesto Francisco said an ocular inspection of the Skyway followed by an independent review of its engineering design and construction would assure motorists that the Skyway is safe to use.

"The users of the Skyway need to be assured that it is safe to use and that their lives are not placed in peril every time they use it.  Without precluding human error or other possible causes of accidents, the design and construction of the Skyway should meet and comply with international standards and must have sufficient safety features that prevent accidents like vehicles falling off its ramp," he said in a statement.

Francisco said the Department of Public Works and Highways and Metro Manila Development Authority can conduct the ocular inspection of the Skyway. Afterwards, he said "independent and credible engineering consultants" from the private sector can conduct an independent review.

The lawyer said he used the Skyway on Wednesday and came up with certain observations that prove the need to conduct an independent review to determine if the design and construction of the Skyway meet and comply with international engineering standards and practice. 
 
He said the concrete and steel railings on the sides of the Skyway, which are supposed to stop or prevent vehicles from falling off its ramp, are not tall or high enough as compared with the railings on the sides of the vicinity of the Makati Exit. 

He said the railings should be tested if they can withstand the impact of a wayward vehicle, especially a bus, truck or trailer, running at a fast speed.
 
Francisco said the asphalt pavement in certain areas of the Skyway, including along the newly constructed portion, is uneven. He said there are patches of asphalt overlay in many areas which are unevenly laid in relation to the surface of the surrounding areas.

He also noted that the asphalt pavement of the newly built portion is more slippery than the rest of the Skyway.

"Many areas, particularly in the newly built portion, do not have white paint markers separating the lanes. There are slightly elevated structures in certain points of the center island which protrude and encroach on the innermost lane of the skyway, which may cause vehicles to suddenly swerve to avoid them.  These structures appear to be casings or coverings of the drainage," he added.

Three people were killed while 4 others were injured after a passenger bus fell off the Skyway at the South Luzon Expressway around 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The Dimples Star Transport bus with body number 7511 was on its way to Alabang when it fell off the Skyway southbound lane and crashed 40 feet below onto the service road right before the Sucat exit.

Rescuers immediately extricated the victims and brought them to 2 hospitals.

Bus driver Hustol Juven Pampilon died at exactly 12:20 p.m. while passengers Anthony Abarra, 21, of San Pedro, Laguna, and Lorenzo Gabu of Antipolo died in the afternoon.

Bus conductor Jonathan Alebar said the trip was uneventful until a "strong wind" hit the bus as it was nearing the Sucat exit of the elevated highway.  He said the driver had difficulty controlling the wheel until the bus fell off the Skyway.

However, a separate dzMM report by correspondent Dennis Datu said the bus was slightly speeding and had tried to swerve after being overtaken by another vehicle.

It quoted SPO2 Sid Dumlao of the Highway Patrol Group saying that the slippery road and the strong rain prevented the driver from seeing the road, causing the vehicle to crash and fall off the elevated highway.