Streetlights in the dark

EVEN those who don’t have ungodly workhours that have them walking the streets at night may want to know more details about the lampposts that light up their cities.

By knowing where these streetlights have been built, residents and most especially commuters may actually locate the lampposts, and propose to their LGUs where else in the city more should be installed. Or, they can report to their LGUs where lampposts need repair, consume energy 24/7, or even, where there have just a swarm of lampposts.

The value or lack of value in LGU spending on lampposts is a matter that citizens may also compare, if they are so armed with data on the unit cost of these lampposts.

For instance, of the six cities that provided documents regarding their streetlights as part of the PCIJ audit, Makati turned out to have the biggest number of lampposts at 4,803 that the city said were constructed from 2004 to 2010. Malabon comes in second with 2,929, and then Quezon City with 1,660, Mandaluyong with 1,616, and San Juan, 921.

While specifications were not provided, the price variance for the lampposts that various LGUs install in NCR is an interesting matter. Documents showed that in Malabon, each lamppost costs P31,486.80 while in San Juan, each unit costs P49,621.90.

In Makati, the cost of a lamppost ranges approximately from P240,000 to P280,000. This amount, according to Makati City Engineer Nelson R. Morales, includes the following: excavation/restoration and other civil works, wirings and conduits, illuminated street names, programmable lighting controller, and MERALCO service connection. Morales also noted that the “cost varies depending on additional problems that might be encountered (on) site” such as “drainage diversion, unavailability of Secondary Distribution Facilities, and others…”

How much LGUs pay in public funds to maintain the lampposts are curious details, too. Quezon City spends P34.85 million per month on average, or more than a million pesos a day, on the power consumption of its lampposts. Its projected power consumption for 2011, as of March, 14, 2011, is a hefty P418.20 million. And of this amount, the projected power bill for so-called ornamental lampposts account for 41 percent, or P171.31 million. – With research by Anne Jeanette O. Priela, Krystal Kay S. Jimena, David Faustino T. de Castro, Essen Mei M. Miguel, Henor G. Gotis, Eric H. Rivera, and Stephanie Directo, PCIJ, July 2011.

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