DAMAGED. A deteriorated road section in Catbalogan City, Samar in this July 20, 2022 photo. At least PHP1.86 billion budget is being earmarked by the Department of Public Works and Highways to rehabilitate the primary highway from Sta. Rita town to Catbalogan City in Samar province. (PNA photo by Roel Amazona)

TACLOBAN CITY – The Department of Public Works and Highways has earmarked at least a PHP1.86 billion budget to rehabilitate the primary highway from Sta. Rita town to Catbalogan City in Samar province, which has been damaged in the past two decades.

DPWH Eastern Visayas Regional Director Allan Borromeo said on Wednesday the PHP428 million rehabilitation for the 109.71-kilometer road is ongoing under the 2022 allocation.

In 2023, the highway will get another PHP1.38 billion outlay from the national government.

Of the 109.71-kilometer road stretch, about 41 kilometers have been identified for reconstruction in 2022 and 2023 while 32.37 kilometers need preventive maintenance for two years.

“We are optimistic to complete the repair within six years. We have to replace the road pavement to resist overloading. This a common problem in Samar since there are no alternative highways unlike in other provinces in the region,” Borromeo said in an interview.

Built during the term of President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the highway had its major rehabilitation through foreign loan during the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo sometime in 2003.

Samar Second District Rep. Michael Tan said in an earlier interview that there has been no major repair in nearly two decades.

“The road condition has deteriorated over the years since there was no major maintenance activities in the past two administrations due to slash of maintenance funds,” Tan told reporters.

The road from Sta. Rita, Samar to Catbalogan, the capital city of Samar province is within the country’s nautical highway that connects Luzon to Mindanao.

In 2019, traffic volume in Sta. Rita town alone was 7,200 vehicles daily. (PNA)