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ROUGH CUTS… | A challenge to the City Council

In an earlier column we wrote about the deferred schedule of calling by the City Council of officials of both the Davao City Water District (DCWD) and the Apo Agua Infrastructura (Apo Agua) to shed light on the status of a joint venture the two companies are into to augment the water requirements of city residential, commercial and industrial consumers.

According to Councilor John Louie Bonguyan, chair of the council committee in-charge of such concern (water) the council will wait until the representatives of the two establishments have finished meeting with Davao City Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte on the same issue. If the gentleman from the second district will care to read (listen) to our view maybe it would be wise for him if he calls the officials of the two firms on separate schedules. Meaning, they should not be together in one hearing. And it would even be much better if the SP calls them at the soonest possible time even if their meeting with the mayor is not yet done.

The reason is simple. If the two agencies’ officials will have the opportunity to meet before they are made to appear in the council, they sure will have the best chance of harmonizing their answers to questions that may be asked by the members of the city council. And for certain they will again be telling half-truths as they have done before. The Council should not also contend with the two agencies sending just their spokespersons to answer the questions. It has to demand that the top officers be present because the council needs the most credible answers to questions of extreme relevance to the thousands of consumers suffering daily water service outages in various parts of the city.

The Council should also show an authoritative stance on the issue by giving the water agencies a definitive time-table to complete the water service augmentation project they started years ago. And the councilors should warn the agency officials with dire consequences if they still fail in their new commitment.

Say, if the two partners cannot finish the project by middle of 2024 the council will introduce a measure proposing to divide the service area in the city into two like in Metro Manila. Meaning, another water distribution and production concessionaire should handle the north sector of the city which is more problematic these days even as it is developing into a bustling community.

Yes, the City Council should hang something like a “Damocles sword” on the partners to push them into hastening up the fulfillment of their project.

On the other hand, DCWD upon learning that with the rapid development of Davao City should have adopted some precautionary measures in order not to spread its services far and wide making its water supply so thinly available. But apparently the water firm, even knowing that it has too much on its plate still continues to put it on its mouth that now is is apparent it can hardly chew.

Say, why didn’t DCWD put a cap on the number of connections that it should undertake during a particular period? It would have been wise for the agency people to coordinate with residential subdivision developers and industry locators to discuss ways to meet water requirements in their planned project areas not yet reached by DCWD’s lines.

But somehow, there appears to be much bigger motivation by the DCWD other than service to the people of Davao City – and that is profit despite its being a quasi-government institution created to serve the people.

And why are we bringing out the idea of dividing Davao City into two concession areas? Let us not forget that our Davao is bigger than Metro Manila in terms of area. We may have lesser population distributed sparsely all over. But at the rate development is unfolding in the city, it will be too long if it will not expand way beyond the suburban localities. Look at Buhangin and Bunawan districts. What used to be forested areas and feared because of rebels lurking in there, are now burgeoning economic enclaves. Even Toril, Tugbok, Calinan and Baguio districts are in the running for development as well. Yet, the water service paled in comparison with the growth. So, we believe that the challenge for our councilors to think out of the box on how to solve the water supply problem is already overdue.

Meanwhile, going back to the water service interruption termed by the DCWD as “rotational” in areas served by the Riverside Water System, the schedule of water availability in Talandang, Tugbok District where we are currently residing since the pandemic, is slated at from 4:00 in the morning to 8:00 in the evening. In its Thursday late night announcement it was at 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. But the schedule was updated Friday evening saying that water is available in our place and environs at 4 am to 8 p.m.

As we sent this column to the editors yesterday morning at about 11 o’clock our place still did not have water. It (yesterday) was the third day without water. But when we inquired yesterday at about 7 o’clock a.m. we were told that as early as 4:17 Sunday morning the Riverside Water System, specifically Well No. 2, was already fully operational.

Cannot the DCWD just be honest and realistic with its responses to consumers’ inquiries so they can make appropriate plans to find water for their household needs?


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