Completion of flood control projects stalls

Completion of flood control projects stalls

SEVERAL flood mitigation projects in Cebu City remain unfinished years after construction began, raising concerns as the La Niña phenomenon approaches.

Eight months after a report revealed that P1.8 billion had already been spent on these projects, there has been little significant progress since then, with the budget spent remaining stagnant — still at P1.8 billion.

The region’s weather bureau has already urged local government units in Cebu and the rest of the Visayas to prepare for the La Niña, which is expected to bring excessive rainfall starting in the middle of the year. Pagasa Central Visayas said there is a 60 percent chance of the La Niña phenomenon developing in June, July and August.

In a phone interview on Friday, May 17, 2024, Cebu City Councilor Jerry Guardo attributed the delays in the recovery of the three-meter easement to titled properties encroaching within the zone.

“This causes us the delay because we have to settle the right-ofway issues, especially with private lots and structure owners,” Guardo said.

In the case of A.M. Oreta & Co. Inc., the contractor for the P1.38 billion flood control project, Guardo noted that the City Council has few updates on the matter, as the executive branch has created a special body to oversee unfinished projects.

Current focus

A flood mitigation project that remains unfinished is the 200-meter drainage project in Barangay Tisa, which has only reached a 30 percent completion rate as of May 2024, after over a year. Guardo said they already called the attention of the contractor of the project, who promised to finish it on time.

Despite these setbacks, Guardo assured that the City Government is committed to recovering the three-meter easement and constructing flood control infrastructures. The current focus is on Estero de Parian, identified as a frequently flooded area along with downtown Colon.

Other frequently flooded areas include E-Mall, Leon Kilat, Sanciangko, Manalili, Bonifacio, Tinago, Tejero, T. Padilla, Day-as, Parian, Mambaling, Tagunol, Basak-Pardo, Cogon Pardo, Pasil, Suba, Sawang Calero, Lorega San Miguel, Zapatera, Banilad, Apas, Talamban, Bacayan, Guadalupe, Inayawan, Tisa and Buhisan.

According to Guardo, under the leadership of retired major general Melquides Feliciano, overseer of the Task Force Gubat sa Baha, the clearing operations in different rivers have been aggressively pursued.

Guardo said flood control infrastructures are part of Cebu City’s drainage master plan, which also involves recovering the natural waterways’ width and depth to accommodate large volumes of water during heavy rains.

Guardo said the structures within and beside the natural waterways have caused floodwater to overflow. Completing the recovery of the three-meter easement zone will significantly impact addressing the city’s flooding issues.

Funding source

Guardo also clarified that the Department of Public Works and Highways appropriated the funds for the recovery project.

In September 2023, SunStar Cebu reported that the City Government allocated P8 billion for its drainage master plan, with P1.8 billion already spent on flood mitigation projects in Barangays Tejero, Tinago, T. Padilla, Lorega San Miguel and Zapatera; as well as on dredging and desilting projects at the Lahug, Bulacao, Kinalumsan and Guadalupe Rivers and the Tagunol, Tejero and Mahiga Creeks.

Only the P1.8 billion has been spent so far, with the remaining funds earmarked for the rehabilitation of the eight rivers in Cebu City. Despite the challenges, there have been significant developments from midstream to downstream of the waterways.

Guardo said that the installation of culverts stretching from the Provincial Capitol to downtown Colon has been progressing significantly, with about 80 percent near completion.

These installations are part of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit project’s drainage enhancement program.

“Ilang gi-rehabilitate atong drainage kay before gagmay man gud kaayo to, dili sufficient to accommodate large run-off water,” Guardo said.

(They rehabilitated our drainage because it was too small before and couldn’t accommodate large run-off water.)

When asked whether these projects will continue if there is a new administration in 2025, Guardo said the City Government will persist in their implementation. He emphasized that while there might be a change in administration, the underlying issues of flooding remain the same. / AML

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