Sisyphus problems: DPWH seeks P100M to fix landslide-prone Eastern Samar road

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TACLOBAN CITY — The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is seeking at least P96 million to carry out permanent solutions to the perennial problem of landslides and rockslides in Taft, Eastern Samar.

DPWH Eastern Samar district engineering office chief Manolo Rojas said on Friday the five landslide and rockslide incidents recorded in the past two weeks in Binaloan village in Taft town indicates the need to implement an “engineering intervention.”

The road is a major link between Samar province and Eastern Samar. It is also the shortest route to get to Borongan City and the northern part of Eastern Samar province from Tacloban City, the regional capital.

Rojas said the frequent erosions in the area with a very steep slope were due to the composition of the land, which is limestone that is easily dissolved on acidic rain.

“We have already requested for interventions from our central office as endorsed by our regional director last week,” Rojas said in a phone interview. “When the road slope is reduced from 90 degrees to 45 degrees, I guess we can guarantee the long-term solution to this problem.”

The detailed engineering work is still ongoing and once approved, they will seek a permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and clearance from the Samar Island Natural Park since the road section is within a protected area.

Due to a series of landslides in Binaloan village since January 3, the DPWH Eastern Samar field office has closed the road to all types of vehicles several times, especially during rainy days.

“We have already cleared the area from landslide but this will continue to occur not unless the road slope is made into its ideal angle,” he added.

On January 3, three landslide incidents buried a van and a bus. Another landslide happened after four days making clearing operations very challenging for DPWH workers.

The road was opened to the public on January 14, after almost two weeks, but was again closed on January 15 after another landslide early morning.