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Slow Dredge

Slow Dredge

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Published by Manuel Mejorada

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Published by: Manuel Mejorada on Apr 26, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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How city gov’t’s inaction wasted millions of pesos in resources
by Manuel “Boy” Mejorada and Karen Bermejo
The News Today
The dredging of the Iloilo River as part of the rehabilitation and beautification projectinitiated by Senator Franklin M. Drilon has encountered huge delays, and millions ofpesos in wasted operational hours, because of the city government's failure to providefor a suitable disposal site for the excavated silt.
Engr. IV Ronnie Catuiran, OIC-Equipment Management Division of the Department ofPublic Works and Highways (DPWH) Region 6, said the hundred-million pesodredging machine was deployed in Iloilo City more than a year ago upon the requestof Drilon but spent most of its time docked --- under-utilized --- near the Quirino-LopezBridge.
"At the most, our dredger could only operate a little over four hours every day, eventhough its operational capacity allows it to work as long as 16 hours," Catuiran toldThe News Today.
The DPWH had planned to dredge 200,000 cubic meters of sedimentation from theriver bottom over a 400-square meter area between the Quirino-Lopez bridge andArsenal St. but this is not likely to be accomplished anytime soon because thedredger has suffered from technical problems.
"Our role is only to provide the dredger," Catuiran said. "The LGU is supposed toprovide for a place to dump the silt material."
After one year, the city government has managed to allocate a 30-sqm temporarydisposal area on the eastern bank of the river in Barangay Rizal, Lapaz, for thepurpose, he said.
Because of this, the dredger could only dredge 400-600 cubic meters ofsedimentation. The disposal area will collapse if its capacity is exceeded, he said.
At this rate, it will require more than a year to dredge the target 200,000 cubic meters,experts said.
The problem is that because of the slow pace of the work, the areas already dredgedwill again turn shallow with sediment deposits, they said. That's because the river flow
is still obstructed downstream, and it will not take long for silt deposits to build up,they added.
This is just one of the problems confronting the Iloilo River Development Project thatDrilon hopes to propel his native city as a major tourist destination in the country.
Drilon said he has drawn inspiration from the Singapore Quays where the river is thecenter of economic and recreational activities.
Drilon has tapped the services of renowned landscape architect Paolo Alcazaren tohelp design the infrastructure to make that happen.
Another problem that could prove embarrassing to Drilon is the ugly sight of informalsettler shanties on the western side of the Carpenters Bridge in Molo.
On March 5, Drilon issued an ultimatum giving these informal settlers until March 30to demolish their shanties or face forcible eviction.
However, Mabilog hasn't taken any steps to carry out that directive from the Ilonggosenator.
Drilon is scheduled to convene the IRDC tomorrow and assess the progress of themany activities lined up to pursue his dream project.
Another issue that Drilon will have to confront is the unmitigated pollution of the IloiloRiver.
Previously, the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) has reported that morethan 160 business establishments in the city dump their waste into the river.
The EMB recommended to Mabilog not to issue business permits to businesses thatfail to put up waste-water treatment facilities to reduce the pollution problem.
However, Mabilog has sat on this recommendation without taking any steps tocompel these businesses to discharge only "clean" waste water into the river, anofficial of the DENR said.
"The failure of the city government to align its activities with the over-all objective ofthe project will only result in a superficial beautification of the river," the official, whospoke on condition of anonymity, said.
"What's the use of a beautiful Esplanade when the water is still dirty, and the siltationhasn't abated a bit since Senator Drilon embarked on this noble project," he added.
For its part, the DPWH said its dredger could deliver better results if only the citygovernment provides for a bigger area as disposal site.

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