P120M for additional infra in GenSan

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/29 October) — The city government has allocated some P120 million for the implementation of additional infrastructure projects, among them major drainage and flood control structures, in various parts of the city by next year.

City Councilor Richard Atendido, chair of the city council’s appropriations committee, said Monday such allocation comprise the 20 percent Local Development Fund of the city government’s proposed 2013 annual budget, which reaches around P1.130 billion.

“This is mainly intended for our priority infrastructure projects, which includes drainage structures for flood-prone areas,” he said in the local government’s regular radio program.

Atendido, who is also vice chair of the council’s committee on public works and infrastructure, said the construction of the additional drainage and flood control projects is part of the ongoing implementation of the city’s drainage master plan, which costs around P1 billion.

The projects include new diversion canals that will connect the city’s main waterways and eventually help control the flow of floodwaters from the upland areas towards the Sarangani Bay, which is the area’s natural outlet, he said.

Among the priority areas earlier identified by the city government for the construction of drainage and flood control structures are Barangays Lagao, Baluan and Bula, which usually experience severe flooding during heavy rains.

On Wednesday last week, major portions of the three villages were submerged in three to four feet-deep floodwaters following several hours of heavy rains spawned by typhoon “Ofel.”

A report from the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) said the floods affected around 600 families in Barangays Lagao, Baluan and Bula, which were placed late last week under a state of calamity.

Based on the CDRRMC’s assessment, the floods were caused by the swelling of huge volume of waters from waterways in upper portions of Barangays Mabuhay and Conel.

The floodwaters impounded in low-lying areas of Barangays Baluan, Bula and Lagao, where around 150 families were displaced.

Atendido said the floods worsened due to the still unfinished drainage projects in Barangays Baluan, Buayan and Bula as well as the clogged canals.

He said most of the canals were clogged due to the accumulation of garbage that was not disposed properly by local residents.

Atendido brushed off speculations that the floods were caused by the release of waters from a dam in Barangay Mabuhay maintained by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

He said NIA officials clarified that they already opened the dam’s intake a day before the heavy rains occurred on Wednesday last week.

Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio earlier said the drainage master plan involves construction of major drainage channels and additional flood-control systems in major rivers traversing the city’s 26 barangays.

Custodio said among the project’s major components is the reopening of the outlets and development of stable drainage channels for the Kalaja River, which drains towards the Buayan Creek and end up in the Sarangani Bay.

She said the local government has been negotiating with owners of private lands and structures within the “right of way” of the city’s waterways to allow the drainage projects to proceed.

The mayor said there were cases wherein some outlets or natural waterways of some rivers in the area that traversed titled private lands or properties had been cut off by land developments.

She said they already sought the intervention of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to help resolve such problems. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)