EDITORIAL: Moral responsibility over public works

A food delivery rider died on the spot on Thursday night after riding into a deep road digging of a drainage repair project in Maa, Davao City.

The road digging was left without any safety barriers and early warning devices.

This is not the first time we hear of lives lost due to government projects left without safety devices like lighting, signages, barriers or in the case of a road digging, a metal plate enclosure. The history of these accidents are long and repeated.

Still, there appears to be no learnings from the responsible agency or private contractors and sub-contractors.

If we look into a contract of government projects by the Department of Public Works and Highways, there is an item for occupational safety devices. This is the budget allocated for the safety not only of the public but also of the construction workers.

Department Order no 13 s 2018 for one states the “Guidelines for the Preparation of Cost Estimates for Traffic Management and Safety & Health Requirements for the Construction and Maintenance of Roads, Bridges and Safety & Health Requirements for School Buildings.”

The budget under this item is sufficient to carry out a safe environment for the workers and the public. That is, if this budget is used extensively for the sole purpose thereof.

Now, if there is a budget allocation for safety, why do we still see open diggings? Why don’t we have proper barriers and early warning devices according to standards? Instead, we do make shift barriers made of light materials like bamboo poles. wooden barriers (which are not even safe)? Why are road projects unlit at night without any warming lights for motorists and pedestrians?

In short, where is the money for occupational safety?

Did it convert to the SOP money and passed on to the hands of influential people involved in the grant of government contracts?

We cannot afford to lose more lives due to the callous irresponsibility of people involved in public works. The DPWH, if the project falls under their jurisdiction, should not blink on this latest tragedy.

We need not motherhood statements like “we are looking into this.” These statements just get buried under open diggings.

We need reforms and results, please.

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