City drainage plan can’t be implemented

The City Engineering office are still finding out how to effectively construct sewer outfall in high slope areas (file photo)

Three years ago, the city government spent P5 million to hire a consulting firm which developed the master plan for the proposed City Urban Drainage and Flood Control Project.

However, it turned out the master plan has ended up on the shelf as the City Engineering Office said they have found it too costly to implement.

“Although their design is adequate, it’s really costly,” Engr. Aries Grande, acting assistant city engineer, told the City Council on Monday, November 6.

Now, the city government has yet again allotted millions to procure tools and equipment and hire geodetic engineers to conduct survey to finish the City Engineering’s modified project design that would fit with the city’s P50-million estimated budget.

“A total of P2 million was allocated for the city engineering for the completion of the master plan,” City Planning and Development Officer Engr. Jovenee Sagun said.

Grande and Sagun’s presence was sought in the approval of the 2017 Supplemental Annual Investment Program (AIP), a document containing list of projects considered for funding.

“We will create an in-house team to conduct a study for the final master plan that we can actually use,” Grande said.

In 2014, the city government commissioned the Makati-based consulting firm DCCD Engineering Corporation to create the master plan.

When asked by the media why there’s a need to spend money to hire them, instead of tapping the city’s in-house engineers, Grande said the firm has more advanced data gathering tools than the City Engineering’s “conventional” equipment.

“Although we have the capability to conduct a survey, it would take us a longer time because we’re using less advanced tools than them,” he said.

To implement all the components of the said plan, the city government has to shell out an estimated cost of P75 million, including P10.46 million for right-of-way acquisition.

The assistant city engineer said the data used in the three-year-old master plan needs updating. “We need to extend the data gathering to consider the elevation in constructing drainage outfalls,” he added.

He said they are still finding out how to effectively construct the sewer outfall in areas with high slope.

“We need to dig out deeper, and when we do that, instead of releasing it to the seashore, eventually the floodwater will be pushed backed when high tide comes,” he added.

Grande said they are working out the construction of outfalls first as it would be impractical if they otherwise put up the drainage without the former.

“If we don’t have outfalls, putting up drainage in frequently flooded areas is useless,” he said, adding that outfalls catch floodwater and drain them into the sea.

In a previous interview, Sagun said the ambitious master plan wouldn’t be put to waste at all since it “can still be used as baseline,” particularly in the final plan that the City Engineering will be doing.

Out of the 22 drainage catchments, six of which with an area of 1,850 hectares are covered under Phase 1 of master plan and detailed design of drainage systems.

These priority catchments include problematic areas in Barangay Bancao-Bancao, Bagong Sikat, Tiniguiban, Mandaragat, San Miguel, San Pedro and San Manuel.

If all the surveying tools are in place, Grande said, it would take them “around six months to finish the data gathering.”

“After which, hopefully, we can finish the design,” he said.

He added that the consulting firm held a transfer technology seminar with them “for us to use the procedures they followed when they made the master plan.”

Meanwhile, the City Council has approved the P388.2-million 2017 Supplemental AIP, which includes the funding of P50-million flood control structures, and P40 million for the purchase of construction equipment and tools.

Appropriations committee chair, Councilor Jonjie Rodriguez, said the amount for each project listed in the supplemental AIP is just an estimation.

“It’s just an indicative cost but more or less it’s within that range,” he told Palawan News. “However, not all listed in the supplemental AIP will receive funding.”

Rodriguez said only in the deliberation of the supplemental budget on Thursday, November 9, will the actual budget of each project be of primary importance.

“In the AIP, the amount is not that important. But when we do the budget hearing, then that’s the time it would be as we’ll be screening projects which will surely get funding,” he said.

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