The DPWH is going green as it moves to strengthen and repair sloppy areas hit by massive landslides caused by recent destructive typhoons which destroyed billions worth of roads and bridges in Metro Manila and many areas of Luzon.
In a recent meeting with officials of the Department of Public Works and
Highways (DPWH), Acting Public Works Secretary Victor Domingo has advocated the use of cocofiber nets (coconets) for soil and slope protection, river; and shoreline rehabilitation to prevent soil erosion brought by the typhoons.
"The department will again be hitting two birds with one stone by using a cheaper
bioengineering technology to prevent soil erosion and promote economic activities as well," Domingo said.
The Philippines is the world's largest producer of coconuts, with 67 percent of the country's farmlands planted with coconuts.
"Using cocofiber nets is an effective technology to solve serious erosion
problems and maintain the integrity of infrastructure projects, such as roads and bridges. The typhoons may have passed, but it does not mean they will not return. So we must strengthen the sloppy areas now while the sun is up," Domingo said.
According to Domingo, coconets can reinforce silt, soil, debris and decrease
the velocity of water. It can also be used in retaining walls of roads and bridges by using geotextiles, which are made from coconut fibers.
"We will need more budget now that we are constructing bridge expansions and
repairing damaged infrastructures because of landslides. That's the reason behind why we are promoting the use of coconets because it is cheaper than imported synthetic materials that are commonly used in construction and repair works," Domingo said.
The DPWH secretary said that his green advocacy is in line with President
Macapagal-Arroyo's call for the government not only to develop and use local
resources, but also to spark progress in the countryside.
"Just imagine how many jobs more we can create among those hit by the floods with this
eco-friendly initiative," said Domingo, who earlier vowed to be practical and wise
in spending government's resources.
According to a study conducted by CocoTech, a local private enterprise produces
geo-textiles from waste coconut husks; the country's mountainous topography makes
soil erosion a regular problem in the Philippines.
The study said half of the country's area is considered upland or slopes of more than 18 degrees, making them vulnerable to strong tropical typhoons and floods.