May 24, 2024

With the recent “one of the many” attempts to stabilize the mountain slopes traversed by Kennon Road, we call on concerned local leaders and agencies to implement the correct engineering measures that are supposed to make the problematic road safe for public use once and for all and for the long-term.
Some of the mitigating measures being done on Kennon Road to make it safe to motorists have again failed when the “rockfall mitigating structure” collapsed this week resulting in the road’s closure to vehicular traffic yet again, rendering such efforts ineffective for the nth time and continuously putting motorists and properties within the area at risk as well as millions of taxpayers’ money to waste.
For years since concerned agencies led by the Department of Public Works and Highways have been looking for ways to make the shortest route to the highlands an all-weather road, landslides and rockslides damaged sections of the road despite of the numerous studies, suggestions, recommendations, and plans.
For years, concerned agencies continue to apply “band-aid” solutions that have not been solving the problem, but are good only until another heavy rain or thunderstorm collapses the mountain walls along its stretch or the road’s dangerous turns and narrow portions cause another vehicular accident.
It is unfortunate, but the historic Kennon Road that was a product of blood, sweat, and tears and lives of various races to build it has all but boiled down to the “killer road” moniker and bad memories, like when a rock boulder collapsed and crushed a sports utility vehicle, injuring three passengers in 2018.
Left without a choice, the public, especially residents who use the road daily, have gotten used to the perpetual close-open status of the road every time it rains nonstop for more than 24 hours. Tourists would know they are in for a long haul when they have to turn around and use alternate routes because of a road cut, unstable wall, and ongoing works in one of the road’s portions.
But what’s keeping concerned agencies from pushing for the full rehabilitation of Kennon Road?
We know it cannot be done overnight, but from what we recall, it has been years since when the DPWH considered conducting a highly needed feasibility study to be able to come up with a master plan or design that would address all the intricacies of rehabilitating Kennon, given its unique makeup and topography.
We also understand the budget for such project would be huge, but if we add up all the amounts spent for piecemeal and temporary restoration that eventually got washed out or suffered wear and tear, more than enough would have been available for a full rehabilitation.
It has been more than a year since Republic Act 11604, the law mandating the full rehabilitation and maintenance of Kennon Road, has been passed and with this we expect the budget for this purpose will no longer be an issue, it being supposedly allocated in the annual General Appropriations Act.
Last month, it was announced said rehabilitation is set to begin next year, and it will include construction of tunnels, bridges, and additional slope protection mechanisms, which is similar to what a former top official of the DPWH-Cordillera presented to the public years ago but which remained on the drawing board due to lack of funds or apparently for being too ambitious because it required so much budget and works.
We hope this time the project will push through so the public finally gets to experience safe passage and for Kennon Road to be at its optimal level of service. This will be made possible when the national government takes the rehabilitation project seriously.
But the period between now and the time the project finally commences and gets completed is the most challenging. How many more lives and properties will be endangered and how much more public resources will be wasted until Kennon Road gets fixed?