South Cotabato asks RDC’s help on flooding

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/04 September) – The provincial government of South Cotabato is seeking the intervention of the Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12 over the perennial flooding at a portion of the national highway and the regional center site in nearby Koronadal City.

South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. said Tuesday they have asked the RDC to help assess and formulate immediate and long-term solutions to the problem, which has already hampered the movement of travelers and products to this city and the neighboring localities.

He said the RDC 12 secretariat headed by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Region 12 included the matter in the agenda of its scheduled regular meeting next week in Kidapawan City.

“We want the RDC to look into matter and help us find solutions as well as possible funding sources for the construction of the necessary flood-control structures in the area,” Pingoy said.

The governor said they requested the RDC to specifically look into the P50-million line canal project implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) South Cotabato Engineering District in the area that has turned out ineffective.

DPWH district officials earlier said the project, which involved the construction of line canals beside the flood-prone portions of the national highway in Barangays Saravia and Carpenter Hill as well as a drainage structure that will connect and redirect the floodwaters to the Marbel River, was intended to help resolve the area’s flooding problems.

But Pingoy said the 1.8-meter line canals constructed by a contractor commissioned by DPWH have so far failed to endure the volume of floodwaters passing by the area and have caused severe flooding in the last several weeks along the national highway, the nearby regional center site and local communities.

Portions of the highway were closed to traffic for several hours due to the buildup of huge volumes floodwaters in the area.

In a meeting called by the governor, officials and residents of Barangay Carpenter Hill in Koronadal City claimed that portions of the concrete drainage and line canals constructed by a DPWH contractor were not steel-propped and eventually collapsed following a recent heavy rain.

DPWH officials led by district engineer Eddie Amir acknowledged the problem but stressed that the P50 million project was only a temporarily solution to the area’s flooding problem.

“We don’t want to point fingers at this time and put the blame on some people. The DPWH will have to answer to the RDC but our main priority at this time is to find doable and immediate solutions to this problem,” Pingoy said.

Acting on a request from local officials, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson approved last year the funding and implementation of the line canal and drainage project for the flood-prone portions of the Carpenter Hill-Saravia section of the Marbel (Koronadal)-Makar (General Santos) highway.

In June last year, the RDC 12 also endorsed to the DPWH central office a proposed P300 million flood control and drainage project for the area.

RDC Resolution No. 88 sought for the immediate funding of the proposed necessary flood control and drainage structures to address the worsening flooding problems in the city.

It cited the September 2010 floods in several villages in the city that damaged various infrastructure facilities and left five people dead.

The RDC noted that “the flooding in Barangay Carpenter Hill, where the regional government center is located, often occur during heavy downpour resulting to traffic congestion and cut off of vehicles plying the Koronadal-General Santos City national highway.” (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)