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ROUGH CUTS | Is the SWPS a ‘disaster-in-waiting?’

Vic N. Sumalinog

Indeed, development projects, no matter how well-meaning and well-intentioned, if recklessly planned or just evolve without proper consultation with various stakeholders, could end up threats to the safety and security of the people these are supposedly intended to protect.

     One of these projects is the Sasa Water Pumping Station (SWPS) located on the exit portion of a creek or natural waterway between a depot of a popular oil company and the landing area of motor boats servicing tourists going to the Paradise Island Beach Resort in nearby Island Garden City of Samal (IGaCoS).  The purpose of the SWPS is without doubt to hasten the exit of flood waters that accumulates in the creek that also serves as the main drainage of that part of the city during heavy rains

    From this alone it can easily be gleaned that the intention of the government in putting up the project is to mitigate the potential damage to properties and lives when such natural phenomenon as floods happen. And every Davaoeno worth his salt knows that these days floods happen every so often in some areas of Davao City among these is Sasa. No, not because it is God’s way of manifesting His wrath; rather these floods are abetted by man’s avarice and wanton disregard of the environment all for the sake of development.

     But we have no idea that there will be people who will have the guts to complain especially so that the purpose of the SWPS is the welfare of the residence in the area. But we are certain however, that many of the Sasa residents could be complaining in silence because they know the futility of it all if they dare let out their complaint against government-initiated projects.

     Last week-end though, we received an e-mail from Mr. Julian Rodriguez II, manager of the Paradise Island Resort. Attached in his electronic communication was a copy of a letter he sent to Councilor Edgar Ibuyan Jr. who is the chair of the City Sanggunian’s Public Works Committee. In the letter of Mr. Rodriguez II, he acknowledges the laudable intention of the SWPS. But he let out his own observations and those of other Sasa residents that in only about a year after the project’s completion more harm than good appears to be brought by the project instead. In fact other observers – those who frequently use the pathway along the creek in going to the boat landing site – believe that the project could be “a disaster-in-waiting.” Why, because according to the Paradise Resort executive and other keen observers, the pumping station facility is constricting the exit width of the creek.

     Hence, the volume of flood waters, no matter how efficient is the pumping of the station, will still inundate the Sasa area much faster than the volume being pumped out into the open sea, these observers believe. More so since the SWPS is still not operating, according to Mr. Rodriguez II’s letter.

     Meanwhile, in his letter to councilor Ibuyan Jr. Rodrigurz II did not ask for something drastic to be done on the pumping station. Instead he is pleading to the chair of the SP Public works body to look into and weigh the perceived benefits of the project vis-à-vis its negative impact experienced by the people in Sasa during floods over the months of its existence as well as the potential damage its facility location could heap on that Sasa area. And from there the resort executive hopes that the relocation of the pumping station may be worth considering.

     On the other hand, one observer of the situation, social activist Wennie Gorres who is a frequent user of the road leading to the boat landing area of Paradise Resort, in his letter to Councilor Pilar Braga related to the same issue, claimed that he himself has personally noticed several subsidence on the beach area that Paradise-bound boats are using. The strong currents of flood waters, according to Mr. Gorres, have already started its destructive run on the foundation of the rip-rapped sides of the creek. And worst, according to Gorres, the five or so major floods which occurred in the area since the SWPS completion last year, had seemingly slowly eaten up the integrity of the foundation of the huge tanks of the depot where fuel is stored. 

     It is this observation by Mr. Gorres that we are able to reconcile the apprehension of Mr. Rodriguez II. that the pumping station may after all, be bringing in more risk than safety in the very near future to the residence and businesses in the Sasa area.

     Of course we cannot prevent some people, especially those in government agencies who caused the implementation of the SWPS, from suspecting that the complaint may be for personal or business interest. But what is clear is that when floods are abetted by a recklessly conceptualized solutions, the personal interest aspect, whether its family or business, ends up submerged in murky and deep turbid waters even as other people, businesses and their properties are added to the ever increasing statistics of damages brought about by such natural and man-abetted disaster.

     May be it’s worth for the people of Sasa to follow the lead of Mr. Rodriguez – let out your apprehension and you can be assured that anytime soon those concerned will listen and see the light.

                                                                        

       

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