Davao’s Diversion Road closed due to landslide

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/06 October) – The ground cracks on the upper portion of the Shrine Hills, Matina had widened from one foot to one meter after a minor landslide occurred 7 p.m. Thursday due to a heavy downpour, prompting the city government to implement a 48-hour closure along Diversion Road.

The site was earlier declared as a “highly dangerous zone”.

In a text message to MindaNews on Friday, Rodrigo Bustillo, operations and warning officer of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC), said 17 families were holed up at the city-run evacuation facility in Los Amigos Relocation Site in Tugbok District while 10 families who opted to stay with their relatives in the city.

He said the P20-million evacuation facility can accommodate up to 1,000 individuals, and was built by the city government for the “victims of disaster and survivors where they can take refuge and temporary shelter”.

He said rain and ground vibration created by heavy vehicles passing along the Diversion Road caused a small portion of the hill to cave in.

In a 3:30 p.m. update posted on its Facebook page, the city government said soil stabilization and slope protection operations were ongoing at the landslide area.

It said the city government and the Department of Public Works and Highways were working together to expedite clearing operations and ensure public safety.

On Thursday, Bustillo said ground cracks suggest an impending landslide and that an intervention like the “accelerated and controlled soil erosion” must be undertaken to remove the huge boulders.

He said they believe the cracks were triggered by the ongoing road construction being conducted by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) along the Diversion Road.

Last September 29, the city government told the owner of a nearby secondhand vehicles shop to stop digging on the slope walls of the site identified as “highly dangerous zone”.

The CDRRMC informed the City Engineer’s Office and the Department of Public Works and Highways of the situation and recommended immediate installation of early warning signage along the highway for motorists and residents in the danger zone.

It also requested the City Engineers’ Office to issue “No Habitation Notice” to a religious group constructing a building on the hill.

Under the 2013 Comprehensive Land Use Plan, the Shrine Hills has been classified as an “Urban Ecological Enhancement Sub-zone, or an area “intended for massive greening program for ecological enhancement in major urban zones as precautionary and pro-active approach to climate change adaptation and part of risk reduction management against flooding, landslide and inundation as the edges and slopes of the ridge or hill are found to be highly susceptible to landslide”.

According to environment group Interface and Development Interventions, the Shrine Hills straddles two watersheds — the Matina-Pangi Watershed and the Davao River Watershed.

It said the soil is highly porous and underlain with silty limestone, making the area prone to landslides and tension cracks on the hill slopes facing Ma-a and Matina Pangi.

Citing the terrain analysis conducted by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, it said there is a potential risk of underground depressions or sinkholes occurring in the area. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)