83 structures obstruct waterways; settlers delay flood control projects

AFTER torrential rains caused big floods in Cebu and Mandaue Cities last Oct. 13, authorities have been looking to clear the waterways of both structures and settlers, as well as to complete delayed flood control projects.

The result: Since Oct. 19, 2020, inspectors of the Office of the Building Official (OBO) have found 83 structures, mostly residential and commercial buildings, obstructing Cebu City’s waterways.

OBO head Florante Catalan said the inspectors learned that most of the structures are more than a decade old.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, citing the report of the inspectors, said some structures were built in the 1970s and ‘80s, and some are even abandoned and uninhabited.

Labella will meet with the owners of the structures to address the obstruction concerns on Monday, Oct. 26.

Labella said “engineering” measures will be taken first, instead of legal action.

Labella said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will be present at the meeting, considering rivers and creeks are under the agency’s administrative supervision.

The DPWH on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, appealed to local government units (LGUs) to fast-track the relocation of informal settler families (ISF) along riverbanks as the delay in the relocation has also caused the delays in the completion of the Metro Cebu Flood Control Projects.

Engineer Earl Escañola of the DPWH Unified Project Management Office (UPMO) said project implementation had been delayed as unworkable areas caused by ISF structures had obstructed their project alignment.

The UPMO manages the flood control projects in the rivers and waterways of Metro Cebu.

Escañola said the DPWH had already allocated and transferred P140 million in June 2018 to the Cebu City government for the relocation of the ISFs in areas such as but not limited to Barangays Duljo Fatima and Pasil.

He said they have been following up with the LGUs on the relocation of the ISFs, emphasizing the big role LGUs play in the implementation of the civil works projects of the DPWH.

As of Sept. 30, 2020, Escañola said, the 2016 component of the Metro Cebu Flood Control Project and Drainage Improvement Project in the Subangdaku, Lahug, Guadalupe, Kinalumsan, Tipolo, Tejero and Bulacao River Basins, which has a fund of P681.03 million, was just 85.58 percent complete against the scheduled accomplishment rate of 96.07 percent.

The Covid-19 pandemic contributed to the delay in the project.

As the 2016 project component has a three-year duration, he said the DSWD UPMO initially intends to finish it by May 2021, after works started in February 2018.

He said though it was funded in 2016, they still had to wait for the detailed engineering and the bidding.

As for the 2017 project component, it has been completed, with item of works deletion in sections with ISF structures obstruction.

The 2017 project component had a P420 million fund, of which P230 million was allocated for right of way acquisition (ISF funding and private properties acquisition.)

This component included civil works such as river widening, construction of revetment and dredging.

Escañola said the 2017 component included the continuation of some of the unfinished works for the 2016 project component.

He said works for the 2018 component with a funding of P284.71 million should have been completed by Jan. 11, 2020, but the completion date has been moved to Oct. 31, 2020 instead. As of Sept. 30, the completion rate is at 94.92 percent.

As for the Metro Cebu Flood Control Project in Kinalumsan River, which had 2019 funding worth P553.76 million, it is ahead of schedule as it is now 20.52 percent complete when the expected completion at this time was supposed to be only 5.79 percent. This project component is set to be completed by Nov. 25, 2022.

More than 1,000 informal settlers have been identified to be residing along the riverbanks in Cebu City.

Labella said the City is still looking for a relocation site for the affected residents, considering their number.

Labella said there are around 340 informal settlers living near the Kinalumsan River in Barangay Mambaling, Other informal settlers were living or have violated the three-meter easement near the rivers of Barangays Subangdaku, Tejero, Lahug, Guadalupe and Bulacao. (WBS, JJL)


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