Typhoon damages Port Irene breakwater
SANTA ANA, Cagayan—What was thought to be an “impregnable breakwater” that cost the government P5.1 billion to build at the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP) here was heavily damaged after Typhoon “Ineng” (international name: Goni) battered northern Cagayan last week, the Inquirer has learned.
Waves whipped up by the typhoon’s 170-kilometer-per-hour winds smashed and toppled the jackstone-shaped concrete blocks that form the kilometer-long breakwater at Port Irene, CSEZFP’s main port in Casambalangan village here.
Residents were surprised how the breakwater, which was said to have been built on a special design that justified its high price tag, was easily destroyed by a “relatively weak” typhoon.
“By comparison, [Ineng] was weaker than other typhoons that hit us in the past. It came as a surprise to us that the breakwater failed to withstand it,” Reynaldo Mateo, 59, a fisherman, said in Filipino.
The breakwater project has been at the center of controversy after the Department of Justice launched an inquiry amid allegations that it was overpriced by at least P4 billion.
Officials of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza), however, denied the claims, saying the Port Irene dike had been built with the use of a special engineering design, which supposedly increased its cost.
It was reported to have been completed in January, but work at the site ended only in July, according to residents, who asked not to be named over fears for their security.
Battered by waves
They said the breakwater was first seen to have sustained major damage on Friday night when the typhoon crossed the Babuyan Channel that generated huge waves.
“Waves battered the breakwater overnight. When we looked out the next morning, it was no longer there,” said Raden Mape, 25, a fisherman.
What remained intact were concrete blocks jutting out of the water surface spanning about 200 meters from the base, and another 50-meter wide pile of rocks at its farther end.
Residents were dismayed over the destruction of the breakwater.
“It’s even hard to imagine how much money was poured into that project, and now it’s gone,” a village official said.
Citing initial assessment by their personnel, Joyce Jayme, Ceza public information chief, said the breakwater remained intact.
“Some parts of its crown have been misaligned, causing it to suffer minor damage,” she said.
Jayme, however, said repairs would be immediately made on the structure through a 15-year warranty under its contract, at no cost to Ceza.
Melvin Gascon, Inquirer Northern Luzon
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.