June 24, 2024

The Baguio District Engineering Office of the Department of Public Works and Highways has suspended the installation of tactile tiles on sidewalks around the central business district following the series of complaints about the safety of the tiles.

CAUSE OF PUBLIC COMPLAINTS — Numerous complaints on the tactile pavement project in Baguio City have been brought to fore, forcing the Baguio City District Engineering Office of the DPWH to suspend the project especially in sidewalks that do not meet the prescribed width of 1.3 meters due to public safety concerns. The tactile tiles cost P300 a piece. — Harley Palangchao

The project was designed to aid the differently-able but ended up harming several pedestrians.

BCDEO Planning and Design Section Head Cesario Rillera said during the Aug. 22 session of the city council that as of last week, the office has suspended the installation of the tiles albeit the project at CBD is almost complete.

For 2023, the DPWH did not include in its proposed budget the installation of tactile tiles as part of the sidewalk improvement project until safety issues have been addressed.

The sidewalk improvement is a project of the city government through the City Engineering Office and funded and implemented by the BCDEO. The plan is after the CBD, sidewalks in the barangays would also be installed with tactile tiles.

Rillera said the BCDEO has also ordered removal of the tactile tiles along Bonifacio St. after the accident involving 54-year-old Charina Mendoza who got badly injured when she slipped on the tile.

The sidewalk improvement costs P184 million. The BCDEO estimates P36M was spent for the tactile installation. 

Amidst clamor for the removal of the tiles, City Administrator Bonifacio dela Peña maintained the tiles are serving their purpose and the only way to minimize or avoid more accidents is to heighten and continue their advocacy about the proper use of the tiles.

Dela Peña said concerned officials have tried all means to minimize the slipperiness of the tiles such as sampling rubber tiles, and coating a layer of polyurethane paint but all these become slippery when wet.

However, the city government welcomes suggestions about how to lessen the slipperiness of the tiles and assured that those who got injured will be given financial assistance.

“We are saddened about those who got injured. Those tiles are supposed to be zero injury,” dela Peña said.

Insisting that the tiles used are of superior quality, the city council suggested that the tiles be replaced with something imported from countries other than China or consider buying from local manufacturers.

The council also suggested the tiles should be installed only on flat surfaces, such as what is being done in La Trinidad, Benguet.

Another option suggested by the city council is to adopt the suggestion of a contractor to pour abrasive silica on the tiles.

Last Aug. 25, the CEO sampled a non-abrasive coating on the tiles but has yet to give a feedback if the “anti-skid” measure they plan to adopt is effective. – Rimaliza A. Opiña