Railway project may have contributed to Bulacan flooding – governor
MANILA, Philippines — The construction of the massive North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) may have contributed to the widespread flooding in Bulacan caused by two typhoons — Egay and Falcon — hitting Luzon in succession, both enhanced by the southwest monsoon.
Bulacan Gov. Daniel Fernando gave this assessment to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday during a situation briefing with local officials in Bulacan.
According to Fernand, all of the 24 cities and municipalities in his province were affected by the flooding – from four to six feet deep — because of the recent typhoons.
Citing a report from the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Fernando explained that there were 700 cubic meters per second discharged from the Bustos Dam that could have aggravated the widespread flooding during the typhoons. There was also the overflow from the Pampanga River.
Fernando also cited urbanization, unplanned construction of drainages, and the saturation of land with water as factors in the flooding.
“Our beloved President, another [cause] being considered behind the flooding is the ongoing construction of the Manila North Rail Transit. While this is a sign of progress in Bulacan province, as observed, many of the creeks along the routes of Manila North Rail, were either blocked or covered. There was nowhere for the water to flow. And this was the reason why so many places were flooded,” Fernando said, speaking partly in Filipino.
Bulacan leaders, like Malolos Mayor Christian Natividad, backed Fernando’s report, saying the railway construction buried natural waterways.
Fernando suggested making a flood management master plan. He also called for massive dredging and the creation of water impounding in low-lying areas.
In response, Marcos said that a national flood management plan was underway. He agreed to the dredging, though noting it was just an emergency response. A long-term solution would include building water reservoirs and water impounding, he added.
“The overall plan there is that we could out large impounding facilities in large rivers that overflow,” Marcos said in Filipino.
He said a team from NIA would assess the situation as soon as the flooding has subsided.
Marcos also instructed Fernando to list down all of the local leaders’ suggestions on how to address the problem.
The North-South Commuter Railway is a major project that stretches across 28 cities in Central Luzon, Metro Manila, and Calabarzon. Marcos seeks to further advance the long-running project during his term.
The Philippine National Railways’ operations were halted for five years to give way to the construction of the mega project, which Marcos wants up and running by 2029.