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ROUGH CUTS | Consequence of a delayed project?




LAST week the local newscasts were dominated by reports of diarrhea cases in Tigatto area which resulted in several deaths of members of closely related families.

It was suspected that the cause of the dysentery is a contaminated water source – an open deep well where the affected residents get their water for their daily needs including cooking of their food and drinking.

Why are some families in that portion of the city barely ten kilometers away from the city center and about six or seven kilometers from the reservoir of the Davao City Water District (DCWD) located in a hilly subdivision along Buhangin diversion road suffering from that ignominy?

It is really unfortunate that a fast developing residential area like Tigatto down to Mandug where subdivision enclaves are already in place has not been given due attention in the expansion planning of the water service as far back as maybe twenty or thirty years ago?

We are also aghast at the greed that some land developers have that push them hard to introduce their projects in the area but seemingly forgetting to coordinate with the city’s water utility so as to ensure that the latter’s services are already there once their land development and other residential projects are open to the public.

It was however, a totally different scenario as far as power requirements are concerned.
We can still fully remember that when the large banana plantation started phasing out to give way to a plan to convert the area into an industrial zone, many prospective industry locators came to the local power firm to sound it out as to the latter’s plan in improving the power infrastructure in that part of the city.

For example, a large conglomerate that has plans of putting up a high-end wellness center in the Mandug area immediately advised the power firm of its intention. Then another large conglomerate which is into the mall’s business and condominium construction intimated its plan to locate high-rise residential buildings and another mall in the Tigatto and Mandug area in the years to come. Its management people came to discuss the plan with the power firm officials.

This became the basis of the electric utility’s expansion improvement in the area including construction of bigger capacity substations, upgrading the power lines and other projects to ensure that it is ready when the industrialization conversion of the area starts materializing.

And we have no doubt the evolution of the Tigatto and Mandug area into a new center of economic activities other than being a new population hub could have already taken off as early as 2020 had not the CoViD 19 pandemic happened.

Of course, we can understand if the water service expansion in the area by the city’s water utility took too long to get realized. First the firm needed a major financial capital to develop new sources of water and build the necessary infrastructures to bring the resource to the households.

In fact we can still remember in several of our personal talks with former and present top executives of the water utility company, the plan to utilize surface water as an alternative back-up to the dwindling aquifer-sourced liquid, was hatched more than three decades ago.

There were already studies being conducted on the Tamugan River and a scheme for financing was already discussed with the World Bank. However this plan seems to have been laid low for still a well-kept secret reason. And it was only some seven to eight years ago that the plan was strongly pushed because tell-tale signs were already noticeable that the city’s aquifers need a respite for these to self-rehabilitate.

It was a good thing that the water utility finally found a partner that could provide it with the technical/engineering requirements and the financial muscle to contend with the high cost of the project. After another three to four years the bulk water project of the water agency finally got off the ground.

But wait, contending with the oftentimes unreasonable government regulations and the greed of some in the private sector took much of the time for the water service expansion project to start the actual work. Actually there were bureaucratic red tapes lurking all over.

And the supposed “guardians” of the environment who did their job to the max – rightly or wrongly – were there every inch of the way to ensure that the expansion project activities are in accordance with their advocacies.

In fact, we were informed that it took almost four years of shuttling back and forth to the local regulators offices, to national agencies that govern utilization of water resources before finally nailing the full imprimatur of the Bulk Water Supply project. Now construction of all required facilities including laying the main pipes underground is in full blast. And hopefully, the project will be completed by the end of 2022.

Luckily, the Mandug-Tigatto area is one of those that stands to benefit from the water service with the liquid sourced from the ongoing bulk water project. With a major reservoir in Mandug the construction of which may have already been completed by this time, or may be soon, many residents in that area of the city are hoping that their “thirst” will finally come to an end.

The next question though is, how fast can the water provider construct the lines towards the households of the water-disadvantaged population?

Residents in the Tigatto and nearby areas could fervently be praying now that the time frame of the line’s extension to the households would be the exact opposite to the very long processing of the permit by the concerned authorities to the Bulk Water Project to let it finally take off. Our personal wish too. Yes, because we in our barangay empathize with the affected residents. We were once there, too. Luckily for us, we were spared from any outbreak of diarrhea.

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