By Mike U. Crismundo
Butuan City – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has advised owners of buildings in Surigao City and Surigao del Norte against re-opening their establishments without prior inspection by structural engineers.
This was the advice given by DPWH Assistant Secretary Dimas S. Soguilon who directed the agency’s structural engineers to “declare, in full detail, the structural condition of all affected public buildings, along with an issuance of expert certification” before any building that was ordered closed due to the 6.7-magnitude earthquake last February 10 could be allowed to re-open.
“The advisory is to seek first full detail inspection by a structural engineer with recommendation for repair and rehabilitation or total closure and reconstruction before any public building is re-opened for public use,” said Soguilon.
He added that his “recommendation applies to all private and public buildings, especially schools, hospitals, malls, and terminals that were badly affected because we have observed that the damage may worsen through periodic aftershocks.”
A team of inspectors from the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE) and Association of Structural Engineers in the Philippines (ASEP) arrived in Surigao City on February 13 to assist in assessing the damage caused by the strong earthquake.
The two organizations heeded the call made by DPWH Secretary Mark Villar calling on all structural engineers to complement the workforce of the government and speeding up the procedure on inspection of various public infrastructures including government buildings.
“We are in need of their capability to evaluate the damage on certain structures because there was large scale of destruction that may continue to pose great risk to the people. Thus, we need to at least reduce this risk close to zero,” Soguilon said.
DPWH 13 reported that the Malico, Kinabutan 1 and 2, Friendship RCDG and Banahaw bridges were damaged during the quake.
Also needing repairs after sustaining cracks were the Surigao Wharf Road and other national roads such as Surigao-Davao Coastal road, Magpayang-Mainit road and Surigao-San Juan Coastal.
All roads are now passable to all types of vehicle, according to DPWH 13 Director Officer-In-Charge Pol M. Delos Santos.
The collapsed Anao-aon Bridge in San Francisco, Surigao del Norte is about to be cleared, with plans to replace it with a new structure at a cost of P115 million.
Meanwhile, Agusan del Norte DPWH District Engineering Office District Engineer (DE) Nicolas O. Alameda yesterday said a one-story school building, with six classrooms, of the Pirada Elementary School at the foot of the mountain in Barangay Del Pilar, Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte, was already completed.
Prior to the construction of the school building, parents and teachers raised their concern about the well-being of students because some of the classes were being conducted at the school stage due to the lack of classrooms.