Baguio dev’t projects held back due to COVID-19 scare
BAGUIO CITY –– Japanese experts in power plant development have postponed a trip to this mountain city due to concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), delaying a vital Baguio redevelopment project, the mayor told businessmen at a Wednesday gathering to discuss the impact of the virus.
The city government has been developing a waste-to-energy plant with the Japanese government and Japanese developer Toyo Energy Solutions, but that country’s technical workers did not want to undergo mandatory quarantines that would be enforced should they fly here during the pandemic, Mayor Benjamin Magalong informed owners and managers of the city’s hotels and restaurants.
The plant would generate electricity through biomass processed from about 200 tons of trash generated daily in Baguio. Toyo was the first of at least seven waste-to-energy developers that offered to process Baguio’s solid wastes since 2019. The plant would be put up at a lot in a sparsely inhabited section of Barangay Pinsao.
The Japanese technicians were supposed to study the terrain of the plant’s future home.
Baguio was able to meet last week with delegates of the Asian Development Bank, which plans to finance the modernization and expansion of the city’s sewage system, the mayor said.
On Monday, Magalong canceled all public activities, including the Baguio flower festival, which were earlier moved from February to March, when President Duterte declared a state of public health emergency.
As of March 10, no COVID-19 cases were recorded in the Cordillera, which had 32 patients under investigation (PUI), although 30 of them have tested negative for the disease.
But the mayor told the city’s entrepreneurs to buckle down because no one could predict the extent and duration of COVID-19 in the country.
Magalong acknowledged that the city’s strict precautions may have affected summer tourism. The Tourism Promotions Board has scheduled meetings beginning March 20 to help draft a recovery plan for Baguio.
The industry can take steps to minimize infections, beginning with instructions for all food handlers to wear masks, an instruction Magalong also issued for public utility drivers. “Prevention is better than cure,” he said.
Barangays have been required to get the names of foreigners taken in by accommodation establishments in their areas.
There are 119 hotels and inns, 78 lodging and transient houses, 314 boarding houses, and 310 restaurants operating in various parts of Baguio.
These do not include houses that offer bed and breakfast services online, which the government is now tracking down, said City Tourism Officer Aloysius Mapalo.
The manager of an English Language School informed the assembly that she required her Japanese students to submit to a 14-day quarantine period.
Edited by LZB
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