A flood expert from Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) yesterday said that people in the metropolis will have to live with floods for up to ten years more as these projects go through feasibility studies, government and funding agency approval, bidding and construction period before they can provide relief to flood-prone areas.
"We have the right plans conceptualized way back in the 1970s but these were not implemented because we cannot get foreign funding," said Patrick Gatan, DPWH major flood control project director, in confirming Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr.'s earlier pronouncement that lack of funds and not lack of plans partly caused the destructive Ondoy flood.
He said that out of 15 projects that could have really saved people in Metro Manila from floods, nine have not yet been started. He said these include the Valenzuela-Obando-Meycauayan Area Drainage System Improvement project, costing P10.8 billion; the Integrated Drainage Improvement Project in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and surrounding areas, P7.9 billion; and the Drainage Improvement in the Core Area of Metropolitan Manila (which could have prevented perennial flooding in 73 sq. km of Metro Manila), P15.3 billion.
The other key flood-control projects are the East Manggahan Floodway Area Flood Mitigation Project, P8.3 billion; the San Juan River Flood Control Project, P5.7 billion; the Upper Marikina River Improvement Project, P3.008 billion; the Marikina Dam Project, P4 billion; the Marikina Spillway (a 7.5 km flood mitigation project in the Laguna lakeshore area which will help discharge lake water), P17.6 billion; and the South to West Laguna Lakeshore Dike Project (60 km), P 9 billion.
Gatan said flood-control projects which were completed between1988 to 2009 include the Manggahan Floodway Project, which costs P1.5 billion (it serves to divert floodwater from Marikina River to Laguna Lake); the Effective Flood Control Operation and Warning System Project (EFCOS), P600 million; the Rehabilitation of Flood Control Operation and Warning System (EFCOS) in Metro Manila, P500 million; the Metro Manila Flood Control Project- West of Manggahan Floodway, P5.2 billion( which prevents flooding in western area of Manggahan floodway from Laguna Lake); the KAMANAVA Area Flood Control and Drainage System Improvement Project, P5.1 billion; and the recently started Pasig- Marikina River Channel Improvement Project (Phase 1); P4.6 billion.
In a separate interview, Undersecretary Jaime Pacanan, said most of these projects
are funded under the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) because local funds are not sufficient to do the work.
Gatan said that many of these projects were not funded because they were not seen as priority projects. "The government had other priority projects like roads and highways out of loans from JICA," he said.
"After Ondoy gave us a shocking wake up call, it is now high-time to re-evaluate our priorities, we may now have to make a serious evaluation of these unimplemented flood-control projects," he said.
Earlier, Ebdane pushed for the immediate funding of these key flood-control projects saying that although many of these have been planned well ahead of time, lack of funds have prevented their immediate implementation.