LEGAZPI CITY, March 23 (PNA) -– The regional office for Bicol here of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) on Monday said it is working double time to complete the initial phase of the city’s Php2.1-billion mega flood control project by September or before the onset of the rainy season this year.
Funded with a total amount of Php335 million, this first phase of the entire Legazpi City Urban Drainage Improvement Project (LCUDIP) called the Tibu River Pumping Station was started in 2013 with an allocation from the 2012 General Appropriations Act (GAA) worth Php150 million, followed by Php135 million in 2013 and Php50 million in 2014.
Works include the provision of powerhouse structure, pumping station structure, flood gate structure, discharge channel, land development, apron extension, river control retaining wall, perimeter fence, bridge approaches, main gate, electro-mechanical works, electrical works, and stone masonry.
When completed, the Tibu Pumping Station will be operational with three pumps: Pump No. 1 will operate at 1.8-meter water level; Pump No. 2 will be activated if water level will not subside below 1.55 meters after 20 to 30 minutes operation; and Pump No. 3 will serve as back-up and will operate only when necessary, according to DPWH Regional Director Melvin Navarro.
“We are going to take advantage of the summer season to complete the construction of this pumping station and we are hopeful that the weather will cooperate with us,” Navarro said.
He said the project is already overdue as he recalled that the delay was occasioned by the unworkable weather condition on the last quarter of 2014 until the early part of 2015 as well as by the late delivery of imported equipment due to port congestion in the National Capital Region (NCR).
After this Tibu River project, two more similar facilities will be constructed—the pumping stations in Barangays Baybay and Victory Village--to complete the whole setup of the (LCUDIP) whose total funding worth some Php2.1 billion had already been approved by President Benigno Aquino as early as 2010.
“It was through the approval made by President Aquino of the project plan earlier presented by the city government that this gargantuan project is materializing right before our eyes right now,” Mayor Noel Rosal said.
Apart from the three powerful pumping stations, the project also involves the repair and construction of a dike along the Macabalo River and wide canals to serve as waterways as well as a huge jetty along the Yawa River to ensure steady flow of flood water and secure dikes from over-flooding, the mayor said.
“Through local and national funds, we have also rehabilitated our century-old drainage systems around the city and established additional ones in areas where this kind of structures are needed most. These lead to the lessening of the city’s flood problems,” he said.
Like most areas of Albay, this city is prone to flash floods due to its proximity to lahar gullies and waterways on the slopes of Mayon Volcano from where rampaging lahar and flood water emanate during heavy downpour, Rosal explained.
“The city government, under its public safety program has been enhancing its calamity resilience and with these anti-flood projects, our place will soon be an all-weather city so that it becomes a very livable place more than ever,” he said.
In preparation for the implementation of the next two phases of the pumping station installation project, the mayor said, all residents along the Macabalo River that will affected by the construction of this drainage system were already relocated by the city government to the resettlement site in Barangay Taysan.
“We are keeping our fingers crossed that the entire project will be provided with all the funds needed if not completed before the end of the term of President Aquino in June 2016,” Rosal said.
This hope is not far from being realized as, according to DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson during his recent visit and inspection of the ongoing works, this project is among the priority concerns of the President, given its importance to countryside growth and advancement of the local tourism industry.
Legazpi, now known in the world travel industry as the “City of Fun and Adventure,” is the center of Bicol tourism not only for the enchanting beauty of Mt. Mayon but also for the various man-made and natural ecotourism attractions developed by the local government over years of pushing its aspiration of becoming one of the country’s leading tourist destinations.
The city has also been emerging as one of the favorite venues in the country of grand national and international gatherings among them the two meetings of the Philippine-hosted Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to be held at the Oriental Hotel here on July 23-24 and Sept. 14-15.
These meetings are the Workshop on Rebuilding Resilient Infrastructure and the Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum that are expected to be attended by a total of around 1,000 high-level dignitaries and economic ministers of APEC member states.
On April 16-23, the 99th Annual Communication (ANCOM) of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in the Philippines to be attended by around 6,000 delegates from all over the country and abroad will also be held here, apart from the around 30 other big events that have been listed in the city this year.
During the same Singson visit, the DPWH secretary suggested to Rosal that the city enact an ordinance that will require subdivision developers to construct their own retarding basins so as not to directly discharge their storm drains to existing road canals and drainage.
The move with which Rosal, also a civil engineer by profession, agrees will also reduce downstream flooding during rainy season by detaining the water then pumping it out later at regulated rate of flow to nearby rivers and tributaries.
This way, according to Singson, the road drainage will not be overloaded during peak run-off period, hence, avoid flooding on the road. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/