Despite mounting opposition
TACLOBAN CITY – The P7.9 billion tide embankment project designed to shield communities in this city and nearby towns from possible storm surge will proceed before the end of this year despite sustained efforts of some groups to derail the project, a top official of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said.
DPWH Regional Director Edgar Tabacon said the national government has already set aside P2.6 billion funds this year to commence the construction of the seawall.
This will kick off in some parts of San Jose district in this city and Palo town under section 4.
In 2017, the project will get P700 million for construction activities in some coastal villages of Palo and Tanauan towns, covering section 5.
On Nov. 8, President Rodrigo Duterte and DPWH Secretary Mark Villar were supposed to ground break of tide embankment’s section 4 project in Palo town but was cancelled after some groups threatened to hold a protest rally.
“The scheduled ground breaking was just ceremonial. The project will start soon now that the contractor has started the mobilization their equipment to support civil works in some subsections,” Tabacon said in a mobile phone interview.
The government has identified at least 14 subsections that are now in advanced stage. Of the total, three have been awarded to contractors; two are scheduled for bidding; and four with final designs.
Completion of specific designs and program of works is ongoing for other subsections.
Tabacon dismissed claims by protesters that the project was not carefully planned by the DPWH.
“The project design is a product of one year study of the Japan International Cooperation Agency and several consultations with local government units, concerned government agencies, and affected communities. We also highly considered environmental impacts,” Tabacon explained.
The project was supposed to prioritize the coastal communities from Tacloban City’s astrodome to San Jose district but was not pushed through pending the relocation of families within the danger zones.
Tabacon, however, could not say when the project will start in Tacloban due to slow pace of relocation of affected families from coastal areas to the northern resettlement sites.
The 27.3-kilometer tide embankment project stretches from Barangay Diit in Tacloban to Brgy. Cabuynan in Tanauan town.
Sections 1 to 3 are in Tacloban, section 4 are located in the coastal villages of Tacloban and Palo, section 5 are some areas in Palo and Tanauan, and section 6 in Tanauan town.
The four-meter high tide embankment project was an initiaitve of the Aquino administration after the 2013 storm surges wipe out communities in Leyte when it was hit by supertyphoon “Yolanda”. (SARWELL Q. MENIANO)