Equipment lack hampers massive river cleanup

THE lack of heavy equipment hampered the Bulacao River cleanup on Friday, Nov. 29, 2019 during the first of a series of activities between the cities of Talisay and Cebu aimed at reviving the dead river.

Bulacao River, spanning 11 kilometers, was declared dead in January this year.

After the three-hour massive cleanup, from 6 a.m. to around 9 a.m., volunteers were able to collect 11.6 tons of garbage.

“If only there was enough equipment that we used during the cleanup, I’m sure the collected garbage would have been larger than that number,” said Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) officer-in-charge John Jigo Dacua.

The Cebu City Government collected 9.9 tons of garbage while Talisay City collected 1.7 tons of garbage, according to Dacua.

Cebu City used six 10-wheeler trucks to collect the garbage — three from the Department of Public Services, two from Barangay Bulacao and one from Barangay Inayawan.

Dacua said it was a challenge for the volunteers to clean the river manually, especially downstream in Barangay Inayawan, Cebu City, where most of the garbage sat stagnant.

Dacua said that to take out the trash from that area, heavy equipment was needed.

Two backhoe loaders were used during the cleanup which the Cenro had borrowed from the Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW). However, these were not enough, said Dacua.

Dacua assured that Cenro’s education, reinforcement, and rehabilitation team would continue to clean portions of the river.

As for the massive river cleanup, he said they still have to meet again with Talisay City officials to set the schedule.

The cleanup was led by the two local chief executives, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella and Talisay City Mayor Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas Jr.

The Bulacao River is the boundary between the two cities.

Gullas said the joint effort of his city and its neighboring city to conduct the cleanup was only a short-term solution since the long -term plan was to amend the penal provision of City Ordinance 2007-03 or the Comprehensive Waste Management System of the City of Talisay.

Gullas wants the ordinance to include a fine for as early as the first offense.

Gullas said it was also important to show to the people that they have a government that is willing to clean the city.

Cleanliness, he said, remains the thrust of the Talisay City Government.

He recalled that when he assumed office last July, he issued an executive order for a weekly drainage cleanup, monthly river cleanup and quarterly coastal cleanup.

“We constantly hold cleanup activities, but every time we clean again, we can still collect a lot of garbage. It needs our full force effort, not only the government, but everyone should be working hand in hand,” said Gullas.

He also shared that in one of his talks with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the DPWH bared plans to install a fence on all bridges so that people would refrain from throwing garbage into the river.

Meanwhile, Labella said the joint effort of cleaning Bulacao River will be a continuous coordination until they can “bring back the life of the river.”

Labella said there is a compelling need to clean as a part of the river is a good source of clean water.

After the ceremonial meeting of the two mayors at the Bulacao Bridge which signified the start of the cleanup, Labella went to Sitio Tubod, Barangay Bulacao, Talisay City where a cave which has water is located.

Labella said he will bring the matter to the Water Advisory Council for the conduct of a study of the water.

Upon learning that the “most challenging area” in the whole stretch of Bulacao River is the portion of Inayawan, Labella reminded the village chiefs to observe cleanliness in their respective jurisdictions.

He said that once all the 80 barangays in Cebu City can acquire their own garbage trucks, which they can purchase through a P5 million cash assistance, he will set a period for the village chiefs to clean their areas.

Those who fail in this regard will be issued a reminder for the first offense. They will get a warning for their second offense. A third offense will land them administrative sanctions, Labella said. (JJL)


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