Mayor creates task force to check if Zambo buildings can withstand quakes

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/17 March) — Mayor Celso Lobregat has  ordered the creation of a task force that will check infrastructures that are at risk of collapsing in case of earthquakes in the wake of the 8.9-magnitude quake in Japan that caused massive destruction.

“Of course, we have to have plans to mitigate, to reduce the damage,” Lobregat said, whose order dated March 15 was issued through City Administrator Antonio Orendain Jr., the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council action officer.

The City Engineer’s Office headed by Luis Despalo has been named as head of the task force.

Lobregat said that targeted for inspection are malls, school buildings and other structures with high human activity.

The task force is expected to come up with recommendations while results will be used to review the city’s disaster and risk reduction plans.

Zamboanga City’s very long coastline puts the city at risk of tsunamis, especially with houses and other structures built near shorelines and even on the sea.

“We will really have to rethink the situation and, maybe, we will have to make very hard decisions. If we want to avoid having a lot of casualties in case there is a tsunami, we really have to rethink the settlements near the shoreline,” Lobregat stressed.

The city government has been strictly following instructions from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regarding shoreline settlements following the 2007 storm surge that displaced many residents.

However, Lobregat admitted that even the best disaster plan cannot prevent damage.

“When you get hit by such a strong earthquake followed by a tsunami, there is bound to be destruction. You can’t foretell when the earthquake would hit and how big the tsunami would be,” he said. (MindaNews)