TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Work has began on the restoration of the 260 meter portion of the Upper Chico River Irrigation System (UCRIS) destroyed during typhoon Ineng after the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) released P50M from its emergency fund for the rehabilitation project.
Cordillera National Irrigation Administration (NIA) regional director John Socalo said that the amount is half of the total estimated cost for the restoration and will be spent for the repair of the canal itself.
Socalo said that the second tranche will be allocated in the 2016 budget of the NIA and will be used for the construction of the waste way and additional embankment support.
The portion of the canal and the waste way was destroyed after the local NIA management tore a portion of the embankment near the waste way in barangay Calanan in an effort to relieve the flooded canal during the height of typhoon Ineng on August 21. The breach developed into a washout which reached the Chico River some 30 meters away diverting the entire water in the canal to the river.
Interviewed right after the occurrence of the washout, Kalinga NIA provincial officer Benito Espique said that he ordered the breaching of the embankment because the water in the canal was threatening to flood several barangays although the waste way was already fully open.
Socalo assured that that the water will flow in the UCRIS in time for the next cropping as ASC Construction which is undertaking the project had committed to complete the project in 110 calendar days starting on September 2.
The Upper Chico River Irrigation System Federation of Irrigators’ Associations (UCRISFIA), the federation of UCRIS farmer beneficiaries in this city and Pinukpuk, Kalinga, call the destruction of the canal a man-made calamity declaring that it was caused by the neglect and incompetence of the contractor of the on-going P425M World Bank –assisted rehabilitation of the UCRIS.
The UCRISFIA said that had the Markbilt Construction/RD Policarpio and Co. Inc. installed the water gates according to the schedule of construction which was during the water cut-off in mid2014, the disaster would not have happened because water in the swollen Chico River would have been shut out and would never have entered the canal during typhoon Ineng.
UCRISFIA president Michael Lumas-i told the media that they have been reminding the personnel of the contractor to prioritize the gates ever since 2013 but the reminders fell on deaf ears.
Lumas-i further said that had not the contractor removed the old Radial Gate 2 early this year, the disaster would have been averted because although dilapidated, it was still functional.
During the same dialog, Socalo revealed that at the time of the disaster, the negative slippage of Markbilt Construction/RD Policarpio and Co. Inc. had reached 54 percent.
Espique said that with the temporary crippling of the UCRIS, farmers in the 11,000 hectare target area of the UCRIS for this cropping will lose an average of 80-100 cavans of palay per hectare in expected harvest.
By Dexter A. See