by Tweeny M. Malinao and Fe Marie Dumaboc
Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes welcomed efforts to ask public works experts in Manila to make an integrated drainage plan for Metro Cebu since cities and towns have separate plans.
With the onset of the rainy season he worried about flooding particularly in AS Fortuna Street.
“I’ve long dreamed of an integrated drainage master plan. For example, in the Rolling Hills area (in AS Fortuna), the water comes from Mandaue and Cebu because this is the boundary of both cities,” he said.
“We can’t avoid receiving the floodwaters from Cebu City, so we need to plan for it,” he added.
He suggested that the planning board be headed by a national agency like the Department of Public works and Highways (DPWH) or the National Economic Development Authority (Neda).
“We politicians come and go, but problems of traffic and drainage last beyond elections. If a politician sits in the special body, there are different priorities. We might be biased in our own favor or just depend on who our allies are,” Cortes said.
Mayor Cortes said if the DPWH or NEDA will partner with a non-government organization “such as Aboitiz, the project may be implemented properly.”
He was referring to the Mega Cebu initiative which business leaders are pushing for coordinated development across 18 cities and towns.
The Regional Development Council in Central Visayas last week endorsed a proposal to make an integrated drainage plan, a proposal made earlier by Roberto Aboitiz, co-chairman of the Metro Cebu Development Coordinating Board.
But since the DPWH 7 said it had no expertise to do this, the request was addressed to the central office in Manila.
Cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Talisay, Danao and Naga along with the towns of Cordova and Liloan submitted their separate drainage plans as input for an integrated plan.
Meanwhile Cebu City Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias said barangay captains should be consulted first before any drainage plan for Metro Cebu is implemented by the national government.
Barangay captains know more about the waterways and affected communities, he said.
“It’s better for the planners to consult with us in case what they implement won’t conform with our existing drainage,” said Cabarrubias, who heads the infrastructure committee.
The RDC endorsed the Metro Cebu drainage master plan to Manila-based government experts during last week’s meeting in Bohol province.
Cebu City already has a drainage master plan prepared by consultants in 2005, and a comprehensive land use plan.
Cabarrubias said what is needed is implementation.
“National planners only have to add so they don’t duplicate the work” he said.
Cabarrubias said he agreed with what Mayor Michael Rama said that the drainage master plan is a “ten-year long-term development” that has to consider many factors before it can be implemented, such as illegal structures along the rivers.
Cabarrubias said resettlement of illegal dwellers has to be considered before demolishing their homes.
He said the city has to strictly impose ordinances prohibiting people from dwelling in rivers and waterways.
“The barangay captains need to report to the city officials for immediate action,” Cabarrubias said.
Mayor Rama said there’s a need to coordinate between the City Council, the congressmen, DPWH and the stakeholders concerned on projects affecting Cebu City like drainage, road-widening, traffic master plan and the flyover projects.