Poe objects to replacement of Rockwell bridge, questions banned Chinese contractor

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Senator Grace Poe on Tuesday expressed her objection to the 30-month closure of the Rockwell bridge connecting Estrella Street in Makati City and Pantaleon Street in Mandaluyong City to pave the way for the construction of a replacement bridge.

She also questioned the selection of a previously banned Chinese contractor, China Communications and Construction Corp. for the project, saying this was a “recipe for anomalies.”

On Monday, Poe filed Senate Resolution No. 984 urging the Senate Committees on Public Services and Public Works to look into the merits of replacing the 673-meter bridge which is a “perfectly-working bridge” to be constructed by an appointed tainted Chinese construction firm amid concerns that such will not bring relief to motorists.

“The government should ensure that the interest of the public, first and foremost, is safeguarded and protected, and as such should exercise due diligence, conduct viability studies and exhaust all possible alternatives prior to the development of any infrastructure project that will paralyze traffic and business in high-density areas,” Poe said in filing the resolution.

Poe had noted that the project’s contractor was banned by the World Bank in 2009 for bid-rigging, bribery and corruption in relation to projects funded by the multilateral lender. The company was also involved in massive land reclamation and dredging activities in the disputed areas in West Philippine Sea.

Poe said it was unclear how the proposed widening to a four-lane bridge will increase the road network capacity when the end of the bridge in Mandaluyong side lands on a two-lane street.

The bridge was to close in September last year but the government deferred the plan to give way to the Christmas rush.

The closure will push through on January 19 to pave the way for the dismantling of the bridge and the construction of a wider lane bridge.

“There is a need to closely scrutinize the plan of our government agencies with respect to public infrastructure to give due consideration to the motorists and residents in the affected areas,” Poe added.

Poe raised her “strong objection” to the project, saying the 30-month closure starting on January 19 was too lengthy, especially as regards the impact it would cause to the already congested traffic conditions in the metro.

Although the P1.2 billion project was a grant from the Chinese government, Poe cast doubts on it, saying she does not believe in any gift “with no strings attached.”