Delayed post-‘Yolanda’ water project troubles officials

TACLOBAN CITY -- The long-delayed P565-million water supply project for resettlement sites meant for badly-hit families of Super Typhoon Yolanda has been trying the patience of city officials here.

City Planning Office head Janice Claire Canta, in a meeting of the Regional Development Council’s (RDC) infrastructure and utilities development committee, reiterated the local government’s call to proceed with the project.

“We want the RDC to endorse this project again to the level of Cabinet secretary for very immediate action, for the money to be downloaded, and for the project to be implemented at the soonest possible time,” Canta said during Thursday’s meeting.

“It doesn’t matter to us who implements it (so long) as the project is implemented the soonest. Biddings have been done and all have been failures,” she added.

Two years ago, a memorandum of agreement was signed by the Local Water Utilities Authority (LWUA), National Housing Authority, Department of Public Works and Highways-Eastern Visayas, Leyte Metropolitan Water District (LMWD), and Tacloban’s City Government, identifying and delineating the roles of each agency.

The P565-million project will be undertaken in two phases and the permanent source of the water supply would be the LMWD treatment plant in Tingib village in Pastrana, Leyte. The budget has been available since 2014, said Canta.

In a consultation meeting last February 20, a representative of LWUA confirmed that the project bidding had failed twice.

“With the delay, the City Government sent a letter to the Office of the President on February 6, providing details of historical contexts and some letters of complaint from thousands of relocated families. It would be good if we have backing from RDC,” Canta said.

RDC private sector representative Tiburcio Morales wondered why the project has been delayed despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to complete the permanent water supply project.

“We have been coordinating and monitoring and what are the results for four years? This, a pain in the neck of the RDC. We have done our best, but the agencies concerned have not done their best!” Morales added.

Medium- and long-term water projects are being implemented by LWUA, a state-run corporation based in Quezon City. LWUA has no office in the provinces.

The government targets to move 14,000 families to the resettlement sites within the year.

As of this month, about 10,000 families have already been transferred from danger zones to their new homes. (PNA)