Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ondoy Floods Caused by MMDA neglect of Early Warning Flood System

As what I wrote here last 26 September, it is much suprising why the vaulted flood control project of the MMDA went haywire during the Ondoy typhoon onslaught. We forked out billions for this, and it conked out. Various explanations are being propounded, one of which blames the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) chaired by no less than fair haired boy of the First Gentleman, Edgar Manda, from the Cainta flooding. Manda got all the flak from such "colorful" personalities as Environment secretary Lito Atienza, while effectively insulating other more "responsible" officials, notably MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando.

And it is quite normal here in this beautiful Republic of Prejudice (RP) that the accusers are normally those really responsible for the debacle. And I mean Atienza. For Atienza, those fish pens clogged lake tributaries causing those monumental floods in the metropolis, but came short of saying that those watersheds which are supposed to protect us from all these floods and mud are already gone, thanks to those environmental permits which Atienza gave to mining concessionaires.

What he did not say is why other cities far from the lake went underwater, and why, in a couple of hours, flood waters receded like what happened in Makati and Manila. Answer--because the P 1.1 billion peso flood warning system contracted by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) funded by the Japanese government, went caput.

Floods which caused untold misery to our people could have been avoided where it not for the lack of care, ineptitude even of the MMDA.

IN FACT, the JICA (Japanese International Cooperation Agency did a study as far back as 1981, which recommended an early flood warning system called Effective Flood Control Operation System or EFCOS. Based on the JICA website, there are twelve (12) flood control projects under the Comprehensive Metro Manila Flood Control Master Plan that were undertaken to minimize, if not totally eliminate flooding in the Metropolis.

EFCOS initially targetted the Pasig-Marikina river and the Laguna Lake, two huge bodies of water which surround Metro Manila. EFCOS has these systems totally in place, to wit:

1. One (1) Hydrological Gauging Systems (Water Level and Rainfall Gauging Networks)

2. One (1) Telecommunications system (Overall arrangements, Multiplex Transmission and Telemetry Transmission Links and Warning System)
3.  Structural Arrangements (Design and Construction of Necessary Buildings/Housings, Antenna Towers/Poles and Water Level Gauge Supports)
4.  Institutional Arrangements (Jurisdiction of the Project, Organizational Structure, Delineation of Major Tasks and Duties and Manning Arrangements)

The project was initially done under the supervision of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). Yet, upon the insistence of the MMDA, it was turned over by the DPWH.

So then, the focus was construction of the Manggahan floodway and the Napindan channels.

CTI Engineering Company Limited, a Japanese engineering consulting firm, handed the Metro Manila Flood Control Project West of Manggahan Floodway. The project, completed in 1996, is a 10 kilometer stretch long dike with four (4) pumping stations for an area of 39 kilometer square, funded by the Japanese government. This project was able to construct:

1. a Lakeshore Dike with an average height of 3.5 meters together with gravel-paved public road for light vehicles; 9.5 kilometers from the Lower Bicutan to Manggahan Floodway (excluding bridge sections);
2. Construction of Regulation Ponds; 4 ponds totaling 25.5 hectares in area;
3. Construction of Pumping Stations at Tapayan, Labasan, Taguig and Hagonoy Creeks; 4 stations with a total capacity of 36 cubic meters;
4. Construction of Floodgates; 8 units; 4 units above pumping stations (Tapayan, Labasan, Taguig and Hagonoy) and 4 along the Napindan River (Pateros, Kalawaan, Bamban and Pasig);
5. Construction of Bridges; 2 bridges crossing Napindan River and Manggahan Floodway (total length: 457 meters);
6. Construction of Napindan River Earth Dike from Lakeshore Dike to Barangay Napindan, 400 meters in total length; and 7. Construction of Parapet walls along the Napindan River from Barangay North/South Kalawaan to Barangay Napindan (5.8 kilometers in total).

The DPWH did its job and facilitated the construction of the EFCOS. Yet, when they turned it over to the publicity hungry MMDA, under its Chairman, Bayani Fernando, what happened? It was neglected. Such a waste.

MMDA Chairman Fernando should resign. He does not feel responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Filipinos precisely because he does not care if someone dies because of his neglect of his duties.