GenSan adopts P800-M anti-flood project

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/20 February) – The city government has adopted as top priority the immediate funding and implementation this year of its P800-million drainage master plan in a bid to resolve the perennial flooding problems in several villages in the area.

Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio said they are currently seeking out available funding resources for the city-wide drainage project, which mainly involves the construction of major drainage channels and
additional flood-control systems in major rivers traversing the city’s 26 barangays.

“Our resource mobilization planning is presently ongoing and we’re determining whether it’s wise for us to seek or apply for a loan at this time or we may opt to delay the implementation of some project
components that are not considered critical,” she said in a radio interview.

The mayor said they were also considering applying for financial grants from the national government and other funding institutions for some of the drainage project’s components.

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 caused severe flooding in four villages in the area last week.

She said the local government is initially looking at the phased implementation of the projects due to their huge budget requirements.

Some of its components would cost around P30 to P40 million for a section alone, she said.

Some 632 families were directly affected by the floods, which rose to about three feet in several portions of Barangays Baluan, Lagao, Bula and Buayan here.

Custodio earlier said the river’s waters, which drains towards the Buayan Creek and end up in the Sarangani Bay, caused severe flooding in the area after it failed to follow its normal course due to some
barriers clogging portions of the waterway.

Last year, around 200 families that were situated in communities near the Silway River were forced to evacuate several times due to the swelling of the river’s waters.

Silway River, which flows to Sarangani Bay, is the main outlet of several river-tributaries from the upland areas in nearby South Cotabato province.

In June and July last year, several portions of the dike along the Silway River suffered breaches and eventually collapsed following heavy rains in the area.

To help ease the flooding problems in the area, the city government allotted some P52.8 million for the construction of additional dikes along the banks of four major river systems that traverse six villages
within the city.

Engr. John Marc Reyes, acting city engineer, said the new dikes will be installed in portions of the banks of the critical Silway, Calumpang, Apopong and Sinawal rivers to address the flooding in several communities in the area during the rainy periods.

The local government pushed for the construction of the gabion dikes, which have an estimated life span of five to 10 years, as an immediate solution to the flooding problems.

Meantime, aside from funding constraints, Custodio said the local government has been facing problems with the local residents and private structures within the “right of way” of some drainage projects.

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.

“But the negotiations are ongoing and some landowners even voluntarily gave their consents in favor of the projects’ right of way. We’re hoping to resolve the other related problems as we later move on with their implementation,” Custodio added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)