P5.2 B needed for initial Mindanao flood control projects — Hataman PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 25 August 2013 14:50

The government has to spend P5.2 billion for the first phase of long-term flood control projects needed to address the perennial flooding in Cotabato City and in neighboring towns in Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces.

The projects includes the completion of a 7.7 kilometer cut-off diversion channel that would directly funnel the Simuay River in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao to the Illana Bay in the western coast of the province; the massive dredging of the downstream stretch of the Rio Grande de Mindanao that straddles through several barangays in Cotabato City; and the construction of dike and revetments along the intersection connecting the upstream sections of the equally large Pulangi and Rio Grande de Rivers in the north of Central Mindanao.

The Pulangi and Rio Grande Rivers, which springs from the forested hinterlands of Bukidnon and North Cotabato, respectively, drains at the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta, a geographical catch basin for more than a hundred rivers from surrounding provinces.

The construction of the cut-off channel in Sultan Kudarat in the first district of Maguindanao started about five years ago, but got stalled due to “right-of-way” issues and engineering faults.

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Mujiv Hataman told the Zamboanga Times Friday he had already asked last week President Benigno Aquino III, through Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, to allocate P5.2 billion for the three major projects, to be implemented from 2014 to 2016.

More than half of the 37 barangays in Cotabato City and some 200 more in low-lying areas in North Cotabato and Maguindanao, which are both traversed by big rivers connecting the Liguasan Marsh to the Illana Bay easily gets inundated whenever the waterways, due to siltation and vast layers of water hyacinths, overflow during the rainy days.

Hataman said his recommendation to President Aquino on the urgent need to implement the three major flood control projects were premised on the first phase of the Master Plan for the Mindanao River Basin Flood Control.

The master plan was formulated in 2011 by a technical study team comprised of local consultants and experts from the Japanese government.

The construction of the Simuay River diversion channel, to divert its flow to the sea, will prevent the perennial flooding of more than a dozen barangays in Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City, according to Hataman, citing a study by engineers led by Emil Sadain, the ARMM’s incumbent public works secretary.

The cut-off channel construction requires P2.6 billion, to be spent for excavation, revetment, road and drainage works, and the acquisition of 159 hectares of lands to be traversed by the river diversion route.

The Simuay River springs from the thickly forested watersheds in the mountains at Maguindanao’s neighboring Matanog, Buldon and Barira towns.

Hataman’s funding request also indicated that more than two million cubic meters of silt from a 7.5 kilometer stretch of Rio Grande River’s downstream channel in Cotabato City have to be taken out from the bowels of the once navigable waterway to enable rampaging waters from upstream rivers to easily get through and drain fast at the western coast of the city.

The cost of dredging works in the drain stretch of the Rio Grande River in Cotabato City has initially been pegged to P621.4 million, while and the construction of dikes and revetment with steel piles at the Rio Grande-Pulangi intersection requires a budget of P1.6 billion, plus P207 million more for the repair of a bridge in Tunggol area in Pagalungan municipality, which connects the opposite banks of the fused waterways.