7 city projects abandoned by contractors PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 26 August 2016 12:03

Table Talk

BY Mike S Apostol

Going viral in almost all of the city’s radio stations is Mayor Maria Isabelle “Beng” Climaco’s recent order for the City Legal Office to investigate an information that seven local contractors abandoned their contracts to build, with the city government, all unfinished but worth Pover 20 million city funds. The report did not say as to whether those erring contractors already collected the full amount of the contract. But many believe some of them already collected in full. The seven contracts are all to build barangay halls in the East and West Coasts with one city proper barangay. The total cost of the seven barangay halls is over P21 million or at least P3 million each. Most of those barangay halls started construction two years ago and remained unfinished until today. Mayor Beng Climaco wanted to know the reason why the construction of these  barangay halls  were abandoned by their contractor. This is indeed puzzling as to why it took the city almost three years to conduct an investigation, when barangay officials already expressed their concern and disgust on the City Engineer’s Office just after a few months three years ago, when the construction company stopped building their barangay hall even if unfinished. The City Legal Office tasked by the City Mayor to investigate must dig deeper into this issue. Probably those unnamed construction firm owners are in cahoots with some of our city  engineers, in this soon- to-be a scandal.

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Also, many concerned citizens and barangay folks want the construction companies involved in the seven unfinished contracts to build barangay halls with the city and should be unmasked and names published for the people to know. Who knows these erring construction companies are but “dummies” of city officials that has been the suspicion of many citizens. Many past city projects by the millions of pesos worth, have flopped, completed but done with sub-standard materials. River control dikes are busted even with the slightest flood after the rains. Ceilings, galvanized roofs and stairways and floorings of many newly completed high school and elementary school buildings are now dilapidated only after a few years of existence,  way, way below its lifespan guarantee as provided in their contracts with the city government. After investigation by the city, no cases have been filed, because the contractor is nowhere to be found. Poor city of Zamboanga, she is made a “milking cow” by city employees doubling as contractors and businessmen.

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How true is the information? That every time the City Of Zamboanga bids out publicly a new infrastructure project, the City Bids and Awards Committee is controlled by a high city official who distributes the city project to the highest “giver” but the lowest bidder? This is strange if true and poor City Engineer Luis Despalo, who is holding the “empty bag” but the “whipping boy” of the public. Is this also the reason why the selection of the City Council Committee chairmen took so long to resolve and only after undergoing heated discussions it was organized lately? Without a City Council resolution for a budget on those city covernmentinfrastructure projects, nothing will move at City Hall and the City Engineer’s Office. The City Council lays the “golden egg” for the city but allegedly some city officials are harvesting those eggs” for themselves. And these officials are allegedly sometimes cloth in “yellow” and sometimes in “red” depending upon the situation.

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One small contractor Table Talk met recently in a gathering confided that “being in construction business is a losing proposition, the competition is stiff and the construction business is saturated in the city. Table Talk asked why.  He said “ almost everybody is in construction business, even those from the government and worst they are awarding those projects, the juicy and easy to handle but profitable projects to themselves. The difficult projects with the risk to lose are given out”. In short if you are not part of their syndicate, you are given the “crumbs”. Wow, I thought this is happening only in the BUCOR in Bilibid, where a prisoner himself is manufacturing illegal drug or shabu inside the prison walls and guarded by government authorities.

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Time to review and reassess the distribution of contract projects in the city where billions of pesos of public funds for infrastructure projects arevearmarked these coming years. If these are distributed like “windfalls” to a Tom, Dick and Harry construction firm, the city of Zamboanga will continue to be flooded at the slightest rain, City streets will continue to be dirty with garbage, daily snarling traffic will be still be a way of life, street vendors will proliferate, drug addiction will be a daily problem and many more, unless the likes of a “Peter Ko” at City hall will stop his anomalies.

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Scoop: Zamboanga City is fast becoming like the U.S. protectorate of Guam, in the Pacific. The whole country knows that Zamboanga City is a wealthy city but nobody simply cares to invest. Agree or disagree.