City dads grill Despalo over damaged rip-raps PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 15 August 2013 14:28

The City Council, in its regular session yesterday, grilled City Engineer Luis Vicente Despalo over the destruction of some rip-rap and slope protection projects in the barangays of Labuan, Manicahan, Putik, and Tugbungan.

Despalo, along with City Environment and Natural Resources Office (OCENR) head, Engr. Reynaldo Gonzales, were made to answer questions from city councilors,  who individually, expressed disgust over the damaged projects, which District 1 Councilor Cesar ‘Jawo’ Jimenez, earlier estimated at more than P2million in taxpayers’ money.

Aside from explaining the reasons for such destruction, Despalo also defended the competency of his engineers, following queries about their expertise in designing reliable type of rip-raps and other protective measures, to prevent soil erosion along riverbanks, especially at a time when these rivers are flooding.

“I have competent engineers in doing structures and designs, and I have been meeting with them to discuss how to come up with effective designs for our rivers’ rip-raps and slope protection Your Honor, designs that are economical but safe,” Despalo told Council’s presiding chairman, Vice Mayor Cesar Iturralde.

Despalo was replying to District 2 Councilor Juan Climaco “Kim” Elago’s question about their projects’ reliability, following visual presentations made by Jimenez that showed the damaged rip-raps and slopes protection in Labuan, Poso (Manicahan), Marcos Drive (Putik), and Barigon (Tugbungan).

At the same time, Despalo defended the contractors who constructed the collapsed projects to be possessing “expertise based on their  For a while, the city engineer found an excuse over the councilors’ accusations that his inspectors might not be doing their job well by saying, “inspection of infra projects is the work of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), while the city’s Technical Working Group, is the one in-charge in checking-out the track records of contractors participating in biddings for government projects”.

Manifesting dissatisfaction over Despalo’s explanations and justifications, Councilor Elago recommended for the conduct of reforestation along the riverbanks, instead of constructing costly rip-raps and slopes protection,“ which could not after all prevent soil erosion or protect the riverbanks, as it only get damaged when floodwaters come, like what happened in the four mentioned barangays”.

Jimenez for his part sponsored a resolution expressing great concerns over the damaged projects, and calling on CEO to improve its system of monitoring and inspection of all government projects, as well as, the design, including the cost and estimates of these projects, to avoid similar fate in the future.

Councilor Vincent Paul Elago came up with a motion requesting the City Mayor’s Office (CMO) and OCENR, to study the possibility of conducting a massive tree planting, involving all students and other government and non-government organizations in Zamboanga City.

Councilor Rogelio ‘Gerky’ Valesco Jr. presented a separate motion requesting all barangay chairmen to submit to the president of the Liga ng Mga Barangay reports about the ongoing government projects in their respective barangays “to determine which of these projects have been abandoned by contractors, following information, that some contractors of these projects have already been paid 85% of the projects’ total cost”.

Councilor Melchor Ray Sadain, also presented another motion, asking OCENR to furnish the City Council, reports about the status of reported denuded mountains, including those of quarry areas in Zamboanga City.

Councilor Rommel Agan, on the other hand, denounced what he called “sub-contractor” employees of CEO, saying that these government employees are sub-contracting government projects from private contractors, using official time and function. — Philip Abuy