LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The central office of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) gave the contractor of the P425 million World Bank-funded rehabilitation of the Upper Chico River Irrigation System (UCRIS) until March next year to complete its backlog prior to the imposition of appropriate liquidating damages against the remaining uncompleted works.
Engr. John Socalo, NIA-CAR regional irrigation manager, said based on the claim for time extension by Lark Belt-Policarpio consortium, the project which is supposed to be completed by December 21 this year will be finished by March next year pursuant to the valid claim for time extension against its works.
“Affected members of irrigators associations and farmers associations want the outright termination of the contract but we had to abide by the appropriate procedures prior to the termination of the contract and one of the options applied for by the contractor is the availment of the valid time extensions for the project which the agency gave due course and computations,” Socalo stressed.
For the damages inflicted by Tropical Cyclone Ineng on the irrigation canals among others, Socalo said the restoration of the damages inflicted by the calamity will be completed by January next year that is why it is now up to the contractor to find ways on how to install the radial and sluice gates to allow water to flow and irrigate the over 11,000 hectares of farmlands delaying on the UCRIS for irrigation.
Socalo appealed to the affected farmers to extend their patience in dealing with the embattled contractor and allow the same to complete whatever works it will be able to accomplish until the prescribed deadline and that the agency will be compelled to impose the appropriate liquidating damages once it cannot complete all the programmed and estimated works.
It was learned that the P425 million UCRIS rehabilitation was subjected to public bidding in 2013 and the winning contractor was supposed to mobilize in September but it was only able to mobilize in March 2014.
According to him, most of the foreign-funded projects of the agency are delayed because the winning contractors were not able to deliver their supposed commitments to guarantee the completion of their assigned works on or before the prescribed deadline, thus, all remedies are being done by the agency in order to compel the contractors to complete their projects with their new schedules based on the computation of the allowable time extension before it will be mandated to impose the needed liquidating damages.
Aside from the UCRIS, Socalo admitted that another delayed irrigation project of the agency is the Marimay irrigation system in Apayao which is also being implemented by Mark Belt-Tokwing consortium that is why the agency is trying to look into available options that would guarantee the completion of works on time.
By Dexter A. See