Safer engineering design for Antique’s ‘killer road’ sought

Rescuers attempt to remove the injured driver of a bus that plunged into a ravine in Barangay Igbucagay, Hamtic, Antique late Friday night, April 5, 2019. The driver is stuck behind the steering wheel. Three of his passengers died. MIKHAIL CHECA/HAMTIC MDRRMO

ILOILO City – The accident-prone steep road in mountainous Barangay Igbucagay, Hamtic, Antique needed a better engineering design, according to Antique’s Gov. Rhodora Cadiao following a bus’ deadly plunge into a 30-meter deep ravine late Friday night last week. Three passengers died while seven others were injured.

Road warning signs and a barrier were apparently not enough, lamented Cadiao.

Last year on the same part of the highway, three vehicles also fell into the ravine, killing around 30 people.

The governor said she planned to convene officials of concerned government agencies such as the Department of Public Works and Highways and Land Transportation Office to discuss a possible road redesign.

Last week’s accident happened around 9:45 p.m. The Ceres bus of Vallacar Transit, Inc. was from Iloilo City and bound for San Jose, Antique.

Cadiao suggested as “temporary solutions” the installation of taller and sturdier road safety barriers on the edges of the highway, and rumble strips.

Rumble strips, also known as alert strips, are a road safety feature to alert inattentive drivers of potential danger by causing a tactile vibration and audible rumbling transmitted through the wheels into the vehicle interior.

A rumble strip is applied along the direction of travel following an edgeline or centerline to alert drivers when they drift from their lane.

Rumble strips may also be installed in a series across the direction of travel, to warn drivers of a stop or slowdown ahead, or of an approaching danger spot.

“I have been asking for additional signage there to caution drivers but until now there has been none,” said Antique Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Broderick Train.

The casualties in Friday night’s crash were fresh John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University graduate Grade 10 student Earl Aron Omanio, 18; Omanio’s mother Vivian, a 58-year-old music teacher at Belison National High School in Belison, Antique; and Evangeline Chicano, 58. They died of severe body and head injuries.

Driver Ramon Abellar, 33, of Tibiao, Antique, lost control of the bus while negotiating a steep portion of the highway. He was injured and so were six others.

On April 7, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) suspended for 30 days the operation of 10 Ceres buses of Vallacar Transit, Inc. plying the route Iloilo City (Molo Terminal) to Caticlan, Malay, Aklan (via San Jose, Antique) and vice versa.

Vallacar Transit, Inc. was ordered to surrender the buses’ yellow license plates to LTFRB Region 6.

“Automatic na once may aksidente, regardless kun sin-o ang tag-iya, we have to issue a preventive suspension to give way to an investigation,” said LTFRB regional director Richard Osmeña.

The probe begins this week.

“We have to find out, first of all, what caused the accident. We hope to prevent similar incidents in the future,” said Osmeña./PN


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