Contractors prodded on road rehab

Finish work before Christmas, businessmen appeal

Temperature readings in the summer capital have started to drop as the peak tourism season starts, prompting businessmen here to urge contractors to finish repairs on roads leading to Baguio before the Christmas season and the city’s flower festival early next year.

Anthony de Leon, general manager of Baguio Country Club, made the call after launching the 2012 Panagbenga (Baguio Flower Festival) on Monday. De Leon is also chair of the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc.

The road pavement contracts drew public ire in Baguio City, Pangasinan and Tarlac because many were started simultaneously, causing traffic jams in business centers in these areas.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad on Saturday said President Benigno Aquino III Aquino had ordered the Department of Public Works and Highways to pave all national roads by 2014 so funds that had been allotted for these projects could be used immediately.

Many of these roads are scheduled for completion by the end of the year, so contractors should hasten the work, De Leon said.

He said the extended travel time due to these road constructions has discouraged visitors and prolonging this condition would impact on tourism-based businesses like hotels and restaurants in the city.

Frederico Alquiros, the festival foundation cochair, said Panagbenga had been the catalyst for drawing back tourists to the city when it was hit by a meningococcemia (bacterial disease affecting the respiratory tract) scare in 2005 and when heavy rains dumped by Typhoon “Pepeng” washed out roads and triggered landslides in 2009.

Contractors still have to pave a short section of Nancayasan Road in Urdaneta City that motorists use on their way to Baguio or the Ilocos region.

City administrator Ronald San Juan said the government has persuaded contractors to complete the repairs earlier than its December 30 deadline. The remaining work, he said, should not hamper traffic flow.

Vincent Cabreza with a report from Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon