The on-going road project in the far-flung village of Kinachawa, San Ricardo, Southern Leyte is bringing hope to locals, whose community has been isolated by bumpy and hilly farm-to-market road.
Coconut farm laborer Jeynel Ballispin, 24 is pleased to see people working in their village to widen the existing narrow provincial road into a national highway.
This year, the Department of Public Works and Highways – Southern Leyte District Engineering Office (DPWH-SLDE) is currently implementing a PHP40 million opening an alternative road that will serve as an access road of farmers going to the markets.
“This is something that we have been looking forward to. I am saving money now so I can buy a motorcycle to transport farm products to the town center someday,” said Ballispin.
The young father’s daily grind in the past decade is to harvest nuts in a farm he does not even own. He’s paid P200 for day-long hard work, just enough to sustain the basic needs of his wife and their child.
Ballispin is just one of the nearly 400 residents of Kinachawa village, who stand to benefit a road project that directly links San Ricardo town to more progressive Liloan town. The village is about 17 kilometers away from the town center.
DPWH District Engineer Ma. Margarita C. Junia said that for the 2016 allocation, the project will open about 1.70 kilometers of gravel road. Other civil works include roadway excavation of hard rocks, installation of drainage system, and slope protection works.
“With the ongoing works, there are only less than two kilometers remaining to link the new road to existing provincial road in San Ramon village. In few months, the entire road stretch will be passable to single motorcycle,” Junia explained.
About P200 million is needed to finance the opening activities of an alternative Liloan-San Ricardo Road. The project is designed to cut travel time and skip road sections vulnerable to landslides and accidents.
The remaining P140 million funding requirement is expected for disbursement in the next two years – P88 million in 2017 and P72 million in 2018.
The construction of the circumferential road will reduce the distance from Liloan port to another exit point to Mindanao in San Ricardo town from more than 40 kilometers to only 20 kilometers.
“The road opening is needed to ensure that land transportation would not be disrupted with landslides, road slips, and accidents,” Junia said.
The project will convert an existing provincial road into a primary highway, unlocking economic activities in rural communities of two towns in the southernmost part of Southern Leyte Island.
Through the new road network, motorists can reach San Ricardo town from Liloan town without traversing the landslide-prone and accident-prone road sections in San Francisco and Pintuyan towns.
The DPWH pushed for safer alternative road to San Ricardo after noting that more buses and rolling cargoes use the Benit port in San Ricardo town instead of nearby Liloan port considering the former’s proximity to Surigao.
The route is being serviced by Montenegro Shipping Lines Inc. using a roll-on roll-off vessel, which makes four round trips daily.
Sea travel from San Ricardo to Lipata port in Surigao del Norte takes an hour, way shorter compared to more than three hours of travel time through Liloan port.
Although Benit port is closer to Surigao, some motorists prefer to take the Liloan port despite irregular trips, considering the difficulty in maneuvering along the “saddle road” in Pintuyan town.