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CHECK SOIL, SAFETY:

15-meter zone around condo site ‘off limits’ to people; Taft Property to do rehabilitation work

/ 08:33 AM April 12, 2012

An investigation got underway yesterday to find out why part of the excavation wall in a condominium project in Cebu City collapsed on Tuesday and whether houses clustered near the pit are in danger of falling in.

A 15-meter buffer zone was declared around the site.

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No one is allowed to enter this zone, said Cebu City Administrator Jose Marie Poblete.

Engineers from Manila flew in yesterday sent by Taft Property Venture Development Corp. to look into the accident.

Poblete said the company presented  a rehabilitation plan to reinforce the wall and ensure public safety.

“For now, we’ve directed people not to enter. We will make a day-to-day inspection to observe any additional movments,” said Poblete.

Taft Property is just starting to build a 55-storey condominium, one of two towers aimed to be the tallest structures in Cebu City.

Poblete said reports that the site was once the path of a waterway, creek or drainage water need to be looked into.

He said he presumed that expert studies were already made on this, including soil testing.

“For stability, everything can be answered through engineering. It’s a technical matter,” said Poblete, who is a civil engineer.

Taft legal counsel Vincent Tomaning said the company presented a “7-step solution” to address concerns like soil erosion in the area in a meeting with city officials yesterday afternoon.

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“We have already agreed in principle that while the Cebu City government is making an in-depth study of the 7-step solution that we proposed, we can already start reconstruction,” said Tomaning.

A cease and desist order was issued on Tuesday by the mayor’s office immediately after part of the 30-meter wall caved in.

Poblete clarified that the stoppage order “applies to the actual construction of the towers” but not to reconstruction or rehabilitation work that needs to be done for safety.

“This is to reinforce sa mga nalumpag na yuta.”

Poblete said Taft Property presented a timeline for their corrective measures.

Mayor Michael Rama led a site inspection yesterday in residential houses surrounding the construction site.

Cracks in the pavement were apparent.

“Don’t put any weight there… Go one by one, not together,” the  mayor cautioned reporters who accompanied him in the 15-meter buffer zone.

A female resident also advised visitors not to step on certain areas.

“Ayaw mo diha,  day kay nipis kaayo ang yuta,” she said.  (Don’t step there, miss, because the soil isn’t stable.)

“Paminawa lang naay mokurog,” said another resident. (Feel for yourselves the vibrations.

The mayor said the residents were staying in a “dangerous area”.

“In the meantime, we have to reinforce it so that there will be no more worries,” he said.

Juvy Cuizon, 41, a resident since 1990, said the excavation of the nearby condominium project was part of their daily life.

“Sometimes I’m lying down in the sala watching TV and suddenly the house shakes,” said the house owner.

Ricky Dakay, a private civil engineer with consultant Ariel De la Cruz attended the meeting  in City Hall at 4 p.m.

“My order is really to quickly address this,” said the mayor.

Based on the ocular inspection, Poblete told reporters that “saturation of water below” was severe so the retention wall to hold back the water could not carry the weight of the soil, causing the wall to collapse.

A portion of the wall collapsed, part of a massive band of concrete 30 meters deep or about the height of a three storey building.

The condominium project in barangay Cogon-Ramos is located along  General Maxilom Avenue across St. Theresa’s College.

Poblete said Taft Property’s consultant and engineers will have to further investigate and provide a solution.

Tomaning said the  Taft Property’s  7-step solution will take  30 to 45 days to complete, then the restoration and repair of adjacent houses will be taken care of.

“For the time being they can’t return to their houses, we will take care of their daily needs like a place to stay and food,” said Tomaning who estimated them 100 residents in the 15-meter zone are affected.

The developer has billeted affected families in pension houses in the city.

“Under our proposed 7 step solution, that may not be necessary for long because we will  restore the existing area to its  condition before this incident and we will improve it so it’s even better, ” said Tomaning.

“The problem only pertains to excavation works,” he said and not plans to build the twin condomium towers.

“It doesn’t affect the structural integrity of the two towers that will be built on this site.”

“We followed all existing rules and regulations of the construction. We were given all the necessary permits and licenses.”

OBO chief Engineer Josefa Ylanan said Taft management provided a development plan.

“Naa na tanan sa plano, nga naa mana ang gitawag nila og sapa pero kana nga building nga gitukod wala na siya na maapektahi sa sapa kay ang second tower man naa didto. Ang second permit wala maigo sa sapa,” said Ylanan.

(Everything is mentioned in the plan, including what they say is a creek there but the building they are constructing now isn’t affected by the creek.  That’s where the second tower is.)

Ylanan said there was no question about building permits which were issued last year.

“What we will look at is the execution of the work. Somewhere along the way, something went wrong or else why did the wall collapse?” /With Aileen Garcia Yap and Doris Boncac

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TAGS: Accidents, Cebu City, collapse, constructions
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