Cebu City flood control projects hit snag due to squatters, structures along rivers

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INFORMAL settlers and structures owned by private individuals hampered the speedy implementation of the government’s multi-million river improvement and flood control projects in Cebu City.

Cebu City Councilor Jerry Guardo, who chairs the committee on infrastructure, said Tuesday, June 21, 2022, that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has allocated around P8 billion for flood control and river improvement projects in the city but only P1.2 billion has been implemented so far.

Guardo lamented that the government is having a hard time in implementing the project because of the presence of residents living near the project sites.

The scope of the project includes the Butuanon River, Lahug River, Guadalupe River, Kinalumsan River and Bulacao River.

According to Guardo, Phase 1 of the project was already completed with a total cost of around P100 million.

The first phase includes revetment and dredging works in parts of Butuanon, Lahug, Kinalumsan, and Guadalupe rivers.

Illegal encroachment

The contractors are now ready to proceed to the second phase but some structures have encroached in the three-meter easement of some rivers within the city, said Guardo.

These include a portion of the Lahug River in the boundary of Barangays Tejero and Tinago, boundaries of Barangays T. Padilla and Day-as, boundaries of Barangays Lorega San Miguel and Zapatera.

The councilor added that the City Government is offering them P35,000 to leave the area or be relocated in the city’s medium-rise building (MRB) in Barangay Lorega San Miguel.

Guardo said there are about 40 structure owners who will be affected by the projects but most of them have agreed to accept the cash with the condition that they voluntarily remove their homes along the river.

“Those families who opted to avail themselves of the relocation sites, we will give them priority in our MRB,” Guardo said.

Guardo further said there are individuals who have built structures in their privately owned lot that is within the project area.

This is another problem since an appraisal value is necessary so that the government can buy the land from its private owners, said Guardo.

Guardo added that if the owners will not sell the land where the project will be implemented, the government will need to expropriate the property by going to courts.

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