BAGUIO CITY –The Cordillera Regional Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council (CDRRMC) wants to ensure the safety of motorists when passing through the historic Kennon Road before it will be re-opened.
“Safety is our primary concern,” Office of Civil Defense – Cordillera Regional Director Albert Mogul said in an interview. “We don’t want anybody getting hurt but we hope to give way to the request to temporarily re-open Kennon Road,” he added.
Mogul said that there have been requests from various local officials and other stakeholders to re-open Kennon Road for the upcoming events in Baguio City like the Panagbenga and Philippine Military Academy Alumni Homecoming and Graduation in February to March. However, this will depend on the collaboration of various stakeholders from the government and the private sector to ensure that the road will be very safe to motorists.
In the recent Ugnayan Forum, Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan said Kennon Road will be opened to light vehicles in time for the Baguio Flower Festival and PMA events.
Mogul explained that the CRDRRMC is working closely with the Department of Public Works and Highways(DPWH-CAR) and the different line agencies such as the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Bureau of Fire Protection, Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippine National Police, Dept. of Health , and the local government units of Baguio, Tuba and Benguet and the other stakeholders to ensure that they will commit to perform specific functions to assure the safety of travelers at Kennon Road. Their commitments will be placed in a formal document that will be signed by each agency or office head and would be implemented responsibly.
DPWH-CAR Regional Director Tiburcio Canlas explained that the decision on re-opening Kennon Road will not be solely done by the DPWH but it will be a collective decision that will be made with the partner agencies, LGUs and other stakeholders to ensure that all the safety precautions would be done before the re-opening of the historic road to the public.
Canlas said DPWH is already working on the projects at Camp 1 bridge, which was damaged by Typhoon Ompong; Camp 5 bridge; and the Camp 6 road slip. Aside from the three identified areas, there are still at least nine critical areas along the 33-kilometer stretch of the road identified for rehab as well as the ongoing rock netting in several portions of the mountain sides to prevent rock falls and other maintenance activities.
The DPWH closed the historic Kennon Road to vehicular traffic last year after a series of landslide incidents caused the loss of lives and damages to properties, and to give way for its rehabilitation work.
Canlas clarified that the temporary opening of Kennon Road, if permitted, will be before the highlights of the Panagbenga or the last week of February to decongest those passing along Marcos Highway. He said that the temporary opening will only be for a limited period since repairs and rehabilitation are still being done along the road.
A meeting of the CRDRRMC is set next week with the different stakeholders to discuss these commitments and responsibilities to ensuring safety of motorists.
As of today, Mogul said that there are at least 10 jeepneys plying the route from Baguio City to Camp 6 to Camp 1 servicing the residents in the area. These jeepneys along with several privately owned vehicles were given special permits to pass through Kennon Road to limit and ensure that only local residents are the only ones using the road. The temporary opening of the road was allowed before Christmas last year only for residents along the road.
Meanwhile, the DPWH is recommending the use of the new alternate road, the Anduyan-Rizal-San Pascual-Nangalisan-Asin Road connecting Baguio City, Tuba Benguet and Tubao, La Union to decongest the Marcos Highway. (JDP/RMC- PIA-CAR)