DPWH, Cebu City Hall expedite legal remedies to finish clearing operation along Kinalumsan River

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PRIVATE structures along the Kinalumsan River remain a hindrance in the ongoing clearing operation of the Cebu City Government.

Councilor Jerry Guardo, chairman of the committee on infrastructure, told SunStar Cebu on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022, that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the City Government are expediting legal remedies for the demolition of these structures.

According to Guardo, the private properties range from small lot parcels to big warehouses that are located in Barangays C. Padilla, Duljo-Fatima and Mambaling.

“The legal issue is on how we (can) deal with the private lot owners. That is why we want to put on board our legal team so that they can work out with the recommendations,” Guardo said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Affected owners will be compensated by the DPWH since it is the implementing agency of the flood control projects that will be started right after the clearing operation, Guardo said.

He said the role of the City Government is to make sure that all legal processes will be expedited and lot owners will receive just compensation.

Since the clearing operation started last Aug. 8, Guardo said they have demolished around 300 illegal structures in Duljo-Fatima and another 200 structures in Mambaling.

Thirty-eight structure owners did not receive financial assistance from the DPWH, but Guardo assured them that the City Government is processing the documents as quickly as it can.

He said some residents have been living in danger zones for quite some time and are probably not even native to the barangays. Poverty gave them no other option but to build settlements along the river, he said.

Meanwhile, Guardo said the design of the DPWH’s flood control project will discourage informal settlers from building illegal structures along the riverbank.

“It will be wider and the design is very steep, making it hard for informal settlers to set up makeshift structures,” Guardo said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

The councilor explained that DPWH is using the sheet piling method to reinforce riverbanks to mitigate the effects of river swelling.

The clearing operation also showed a significant improvement in the flow of the water, especially during heavy rains, he said.

“In fact, I was on the ground... The barangay officials gave testimony that after we have completed the projects, they never experienced nga there was overflowing of water from the river,” said Guardo.

However, Guardo admitted that the longtime solution to flooding incidents in the city will rely on ongoing flood control projects being conducted by the DPWH in the city’s different waterways.

The City’s drainage master plan also pointed out that main waterways should be improved first by upgrading the drainage network.

Guardo said the improvements on creeks and other kinds of waterways like canals would be rendered useless if they remained shallow.

“Mo-backflow ra gihapon ang tubig (There would be a backflow of water),” he said.

Guardo further said the City is conducting regular desilting of the drainage system to mitigate the effects of flooding.