ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews / 30 May) — The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) has allocated 400 million pesos to upgrade the water system in Marawi City, ensuring sufficient supply to 40 barangays outside ‘Ground Zero.’
The national government, through Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM), is focusing on improving the water system in the 24-barangay ‘Ground Zero,’ the former main battle area between government forces and the Maute Group in 2017, while the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) will take charge of 40 barangays outside ‘Ground Zero,’ Member of Parliament Zia Alonto Adiong told MindaNews.
Marawi has 96 barangays.
Adiong, who attended the signing on Saturday of a Memorandum of Agreement between Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong, Jr., for the improvement of the Marawi Water System, said the 400-million peso fund comes from the one-billion peso Marawi Rehabilitation Support Fund of the BARMM.
Adiong said the project “will service an additional 40 barangays in the city, providing adequate water supply for every household in the identified barangays” outside ‘Ground Zero.’
“This is a separate assistance program from that of the TFBM, “ Adiong explained.
Adiong said the water system has been a problem even before the 2017 siege. Distribution of water supply had been problematic then, Adiong said, because, among others, the distribution pipes of the Marawi City Water District (MCWD) were old and small. Most of the houses and business establishments there relied on water supply from deep wells.
On the fourth anniversary of Day 1 of the Marawi Siege last week, Housing Secretary and TFBM chair Eduardo del Rosario, who visited Marawi on May22 and 23, told reporters that TFBM will establish a water filtration project for the city.
HE said the project “will utilize the water resource from Lake Lanao to pass through the filtration process and to be distributed to every household” in the MAA.
Mayor Majul Gandamra said the BARMM-funded project is a “welcome development because this definitely will augment the efforts being done by the TFBM in terms of “providing potable water to our constituents.”
“I hope that this water project and other interventions coming from BARMM will materialize very soon since these are essential and urgent in our efforts to bring back Marawi City to normalcy,” he said.
Rodney Peralta of the Local Water Utilities Administration said the proposed filtration project will cost 200 million pesos. He said the amount covers the construction of an intake facility in Lake Lanao, pumping station and transmission pipelines, and reservoir but added more is needed for the augmentation of the water treatment plant. He said five million liters capacity per day is just the initial, hence the need for a supplemental budget.
He explained that the original plan was for 11 deep wells as water source but the new source is now Lake Lanao.
MP Adiong said the upgrading of the water system was a recommendation of the Special Committee on Marawi which the BTA created to conduct consultations on the rehabilitation of Marawi to supplement what the TFBM is doing,
The water system project, he said, is aligned with the Provincial Physical and Development Master Plan.
He said TFBM is doing the water project for Ground Zero so to complement the project, the BARMM-funded project will focus on upgrading the MCWD facilities to supply water to 40 barangays just outside Ground Zero
Adiong said the project consists of five phases, including re-piping of existing water distribution lines, drilling and construction of pumping stations and reservoir; reconstruction and restoration of Pump 3.
He said drilling is not recommended because of environmental protection concern so the water can be sourced from the lake but will undergo a filtration process.
He said the 400-million peso fund may not be able to cover all five phases but added that the provincial government will shell out a counterpart fund.
Aside from Adiong, present during the signing of the MOA at Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao were Environment Minister Abdulraouf “Sammy Gambar” Macacua, Public Works Minister Eduard Uy Guerra, Local Governments Minister Naguib Sinarimbo, Marantao Mayor Akira Indol Alonto and Lanao del Sur Provincial Board Member Allan Panolong. (Richel V. Umel / MindaNews with a report by Carolyn O. Arguillas)