The Metro Manila Development Authority on Wednesday asked the public not to worry about the safety and the structural integrity of the controversial footbridge in Quezon City following the arrest of four construction workers of the bridge in a police anti-drug operation.
“Nothing to worry about the safety of the bridge despite reports that the workers involved [in the construction] were [drug] addicts. We have final inspection prior to acceptance at all government projects,” said MMDA assistant secretary and spokesperson Celine Pialago.
Arrested at the construction site barracks of the bridge were Jan Jan Rasonable, 26; Joseph Baldia, 27; Lolito Lacang, 38, and Jonard Jagon, 23. They are now detained at the Central Police District- Station 10 pending the filing of criminal charges against them before the Quezon City prosecutors office.
Authorities caught the suspects while having drug pot session at their barracks and recovered sachets of metamphetamine hydrochloride, locally known as shabu, and drug paraphernalia.
The arrest was made after residents tipped off the police that some construction workers of the bridge were drug dependents and suspected to be engaged in shabu trafficking.
The MMDA was supposed to formally open the steel bridge last Nov. 15 but it came up with a decision to postpone it and redesign or modify the P10-million structure following series of criticism from newspaper columnists and netizens.
Based on the new design, the MMDA will add another landing platform on the footbridge so that pedestrians will not find it too steep.
“Our target opening is Nov. 27 and just in case (sic), before this year ends,” said Pialago.
The 10-meter high structure goes over the Metro Railway Transit Line 3 rails along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, near GMA-Kamuning station.
The cost for the P10-million bridge would have ballooned if it were a tunnel-type structure, Pialago said.
Pictures of the foorbridge dubbed by netizens as “stairway to heaven” also went viral on social media, with some Facebook and Twitter users commenting that the structure could be inaccessible to those pregnant, the elderly and persons with disabilities.
MMDA officials said the footbridge was placed at that height because there has to be at least 3-4 meters of space between the footbridge and the MRT-3 structure so it doesn’t touch the electrical lines.
They added the footbridge was built three months ago due to pedestrian-related accidents in the area.
The MMDA keeps asking the public to use footbridges instead of risking their lives crossing major thoroughfares.
At least 110 footbridges had been built around Metro Manila. More than half were constructed by the MMDA, while the rest were built by the local government units.
Despite the huge amount of taxpayers’ money that had gone into the construction of footbridges, people continued to cross busy streets and dangerous portions of the roads where they are not supposed to.
The agency cited that road accident is one of the major causes of monstrous traffic in the metropolis.
In 2014, members of the Metro Manila Council, the MMDA’s policy-making body, approved the proposal of the agency to increase the penalty against jaywalking from P200 to P500 following reports that the numbers of jaywalking incidents are increasing despite numerous government efforts to educate undisciplined pedestrians.
READ: ‘Stairway to heaven’ opens on Dec. 15