October 7, 2022

Baguio Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda has suggested evaluating the placement of tactile tiles in the city’s sidewalks and conducting the same using the requirements provided by a 2009 Department of Public Works and Highways order to determine if the project complied with standards.

In a proposed resolution filed on Aug. 24, Tabanda urged the City Engineering Office and the DPWH Baguio District Engineering Office to conduct a thorough evaluation of the installed tactile tiles using the minimum requirements in DPWH Department Order 37, s. 2009 for sidewalks, to ensure the installed tactile tiles are safe for the public and people with disability, for whom the new installations are intended.

During the Aug. 22 session of the city council, the CEO said the sidewalk project, which featured the installation of tactile to address the welfare and safety of PWDs, is based on DPWH Order 37.

However, at least two residents have complained to the city government during the same council session they slipped and suffered injuries due to the slippery nature of the tactile tiles, including those who also claimed on social media of getting injured due to the tactile, which Tabanda warned, is opening the city government to other claims of the same nature.

The councilor said while the order listed requirements in building sidewalks, it only mentioned the use of tactile blocks in crossings.

It provides the use of tactile blocks “in the immediate vicinity of the crossing as an aid to the blind” and the “tactile surface should be high enough to be felt by the sole of the shoe so as not to cause pedestrians to trip or affect the pedestrians to trip or to affect the mobility of wheelchair users.”

Tabanda said in the evaluation, it may be necessary to determine if the placement of the tactile blocks is in compliance with the DPWH order.

She said it must be determined if the placement is on a national road or if this is allowed in local roads; if the minimum width of the sidewalk is 1.2 meters; if the 1.2 meters should be without the tactile blocks, or with additional three meters for the tactile blocks; if the sidewalk complies with the gradient (slope) requirement; if the tactile blocks should only be in the immediate vicinity of crossings; and if the material used is non slip.

The DPWH has already suspended the completion of the project two weeks ago due to the complaints to address the issues on the use of tactile blocks. – Hanna C. Lacsamana