THE Cebu City Government formally launched Wednesday, April 12, 2023, the three-meter easement development project as a restoration program for eight rivers in the city.
The project is set to start on April 18, 2023 at the Bulacao River.
Aside from Bulacao River, seven other rivers are targets of the development project. These are the Estero de Parian, Mahiga River, Lahug River, Guadalupe River, Tagunol Creek, Kinalumsan River and Butuanon River.
Access roads, bike lanes, river railings, concrete pavements, and modular water treatment facilities are set to be constructed in these areas.
Mayor Michael Rama said this project is still part of the goal of making a Singapore-like Cebu City.
“No matter what, we’ve been very clear. Making the lives of the poor better, the middle class comfortable, the rich to share. Tul-iron ang hiwi. Ninduton ang bati. Limpyuhon ang hugaw. Wagtangon ang baho. Han-ayon ang gubot sa tibuok siyudad sa Sugbo,” Rama said.
(Straighten the crooked. Beautify the ugly. Clean the dirty. Eliminate the stench. Straighten the mess in the entire city of Cebu.)
Gerardo Carillo, Task Force Gubat sa Baha co-chairman and three-meter easement project chairman, said the development will start at the Bulacao River since there are no standing structures in that area anymore.
The City has been clearing the three-meter easement along rivers of structures and informal settlers to pave the way for the rivers’ restoration, which will also mitigate flooding.
Under the Water Code of the Philippines, the banks of rivers and streams and the shores of the seas and lakes throughout their entire length and within a zone of three meters in urban areas are subject to the easement of public use for recreation, navigation, floatage, fishing and salvage. No structures may be built in this zone.
Task Force Gubat Sa Baha co-chairman Jerone Castillo said they have been working on providing housing facilities for those who would be displaced.
“We should provide housing. We provide the housing facility so when we clear them from the area, ibalhin nimo (we will relocate them). Di sad nimo ibalhin sa bukid. (You also don’t transfer them to the mountains). Niingon si mayor (The mayor said), ‘dong, get my temporary housing done,’” Castillo said.
For the temporary housing intended for the displaced riverside settlers, Carillo said the Bids and Awards Committee will meet next week. And once the terms of reference are approved by the mayor, then they will proceed with the bidding and construction may start by June 2023.
Last month, the Cebu City Government said nearly 1,000 housing units would be set up at the South Road Properties to serve as transition housing for those affected by its program to clear the three-meter easement of waterways.
Estero de Parian is also set to be converted into a heritage and tourist site, with the Venice Grand Canal design to be used as an inspiration.
Work at the Bulacao River area is scheduled on April 25, followed by the development in Mahiga River on May 2, then Estero de Parian and the rest of the rivers in the following months.