661 Manholes ‘Missing’

MANILA, Philippines - Flash floods, like the ones that happened on Tuesday, were blamed partly on 661 manholes and drainage inlets, which have been plugged by private contractors of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) while asphalting major thoroughfares in Metro Manila.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino said his men are now in a search for the 661 manholes and drainage inlets that are now covered by asphalt.

Tolentino said the MMDA has asked the DPWH-National Capital Region to immediately crack a whip on its negligent contractors.

"Contractors must be held responsible for this. They should face fines and penalties like withholding their retention fees or if they continue with this kind of work, be blacklisted from conducting government projects," he added.

"Those covered manholes should be accessible for the flood-control teams to declog. Private contractors have to unearth these manholes immediately," said Tolentino.

Tolentino stressed that because manholes have been covered, MMDA workers have difficulty removing silt and waste that clog canals and impede the flow of floodwater.

"Waste deposit buildups are hard to reach, there is slow receding of flood water, which result in flooding and traffic jams," he said.

Incessant rains yesterday triggered floods in several major thoroughfares in Metro Manila but only to a gutter-deep level, with the exception of the flood on V. Luna Road in Quezon City which was chest-deep.

With the rains, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) instructed residents living along riverbanks, waterways, and flood prone areas to evacuate.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), on the other hand, also advised residents around Ipo and La Mesa dams, where waters have reached critical level, to be on alert.

Based on latest NDRRMC bulletin, roads in Barangays La Paz, Pio Del Pilar, and Tejeros in Makati City and at Barangay 177 Zone 18, Malibay, Pasay City were rendered impassable to light vehicles.

On the other hand, cleaning operations and pumping out of water was being undertaken in Barangay Pinyahan, Valenzuela City.

In Sitio Mabanlik, Barangay Poblacion, Calintaan, Occidental Mindoro, the national road was also rendered impassable to light vehicles.

The MMDA Metrobase said floodwaters were monitored but subsided eventually along EDSA-Tuazon, Talayan Creek on Araneta Avenue, and parts of Manila. -with reports from Elena L. Aben, Francis T. Wakefield, Nel B. Andrade, Freddie C. Velez, and Anjo Perez

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