Rockwell Bridge rehab a go despite Senate probe call

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 16 2019 07:34 AM | Updated as of Jan 16 2019 07:48 AM

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MANILA - The planned rehabilitation of a bridge connecting Makati and Mandaluyong cities will proceed, its manager said Wednesday despite a senator's call for a legislative inquiry into project. 

The Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge, also known as Rockwell Bridge, is "perfectly working" as it is, said Senator Grace Poe. The selection of a banned Chinese contractor, as well as the project's cost and length of time of construction, make up "a recipe for anomalies," she added. 

Engr. Virgilio Castillo, manager of the bridge's rehabilitation, said 35,000 motorists use the structure everyday, already exceeding its daily capacity of 20,000. 

A feasibility study by the public works department expects the daily motorist volume to swell to 36,000 by 2020, he told radio DZMM. 

"Itutuloy po namin," he said of the bridge-widening that will start on Saturday, Jan. 19. 

The bridge's contractor, China Communications and Construction Corp., was banned by the World Bank in 2009 for "bid-rigging, bribery and corruption," Poe earlier noted. 

The firm was also reportedly used for reclamation activities in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, where Manila and Beijing have unresolved disputes, said the senator. 

She also questioned how the proposed widening of the 2-lane bridge to 4 lanes would increase the road network capacity when it leads to a 2-lane street. 

Poe also raised doubt that there were "no strings attached" to the project that will be funded with a P1.2-billion grant from China.
Castilllo said local funds also be allocated in 2020 for the expansion of the roads leading to and from the bridge. 

The bridge-widening is expected to be completed in 2021.