TO finally address the flooding problem in some Metro Cebu areas, an official of the Metro Cebu Development Coordinating Board (MCDCB) suggested widening rivers and creeks to up to 30 meters.

This could cost up to P10 billion since it would entail the removal of informal settlers and illegal structures from the banks of rivers and creeks, Engineer Fortunato Sanchez Jr., the chairman of MCDCB’s Infrastructure and Utilities Committee, said yesterday.

Speaking during the 888 News Forum, Sanchez said that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) estimated it to cost only P2.4 billion when it first made a drainage master plan for Metro Cebu in 1995.

“Now, our estimate is P10 billion and this will increase if the government will further delay its action on the problem on flooding. Political will is needed to relocate the informal settlers and demolish the buildings that encroached the rivers and creeks,” Sanchez said.

He said that there were already three studies for a drainage master plan done by different foreign consultants in 1983, 1995 and in 2007, but these were not implemented.

Sanchez said this is the reason the number of flood-prone areas increased over the years—from only nine areas in 1983 to 127 in 1995 and 175 flood-prone areas by 2001.

The studies recommended widening rivers and creeks to up to 30 meters. It should also follow a straight path so that rainwater will flow continuously to the sea instead of flowing to the streets.

Sanchez said the flooding in some parts of Metro Cebu last July 1, which caused a five-hour gridlock in some areas, should serve as a warning to local officials and the public.

The rainfall that time was only 55 millimeters, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Mactan, and Sanchez said the flooding could be much worse if the rainfall was higher.

In the same forum, Department of Public Works and Highways 7 Assistant Director Juby Cordon said the implementation of flood control projects is ongoing.

Of the P731 million earmarked for flood control, P422 million is for the drainage improvement project identified as Bulacao, Guadalupe, Lahug and Subangdaku River Basins in Cebu City.

Other items in the budget are P70 million for the Kinalumsan River Flood Control Project; P96 million for the improvement of the Tejero channel; P88 million for Subandaku River Flood Control Project, and P55 million for the Tipolo River Control in Mandaue City.