MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte, Nov.4 (PIA) -- - At least 550 notices have been sent to road right of way (RROW) encroachers in Southern Leyte by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), signifying its commitment to clear roadsides from obstructions.

In a statement sent to PIA, District Engineer Ma. Margarita C. Junia said that sending notices will continue, prioritizing road sections scheduled for widening in 2016.

“Removing RROW encroachment has been our top priority. We just completed our inventory and we are moving to the next step, which is sending notices,” Junia quoted.

Of the 550 notices served, 263 are for the first notice, 157 for the second notice, and 130 for the third notice. Some 54 structures were voluntarily demolished as of end of September 2015, it was learned.

For the entire province, there are 9,224 structures that are up for demolition, based on records of the DPWH-Southern Leyte District Engineering Office (SLDEO).

“We are firm in informing property owners that it is unlawful for anyone to convert any part of the public highway to his or her own private use,” Junia in a press release informed.

Meanwhile, Celso R. Mulig, SLDEO right of way agent said that aside from sending notices, they have also initiated a lot of negotiations with encroachers and informed them of possible consequences if they will not heed orders.

The SLDEO team checked the sites with encroachment, identified the property owner, measured the distance, and marked the structures that need demolition. The encroachment problem is more serious in Maasin City, Sogod town, Bontoc and some town centers where some local government-owned structures are within the RROW.

The source said that the said move is in compliance to Secretary Rogelio Singson’s Department Order No. 73 dated 2014, where he directed the strict enforcement of existing orders on the removal of obstructions and prohibited uses within the RROW of national highways.

It was learned further that DPWH has listed the following as RROW obstructions: buildings; houses; shanties; stores; shops; sheds; posts; canopies; billboards; signage; advertisements; fences; walls; railings; basketball courts; garbage receptacles; plants and plant boxes.

Also considered as encroachment are driveways and ramps occupying or protruding to the sidewalk; humps; construction materials (gravel, sand, cement, lumber, steel bars, waste materials), among others; and vehicles and equipment that are junked, parked, and occupying or protruding to the sidewalk or shoulder. (w/ reports from DPWH-SLDEO/rgc/PIA8-SoLeyte)