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Kalinga irrigation project delayed as monsoon starts

/ 08:46 PM June 05, 2016
WORKERS repair a portion of the main canal of the Upper Chico River Irrigation System in Tabuk City, Kalinga province. ADOLPH BRAVO / Contributor

WORKERS repair a portion of the main canal of the Upper Chico River Irrigation System in Tabuk City, Kalinga province. ADOLPH BRAVO / Contributor

BAGUIO CITY—The World Bank found last week that not even half of the P425-million project to rehabilitate the Upper Chico River Irrigation System (UCRIS) in Tabuk City in Kalinga province had been completed, according to a top official of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

The UCRIS contractor, Markbilt Construction/RD Policarpio and Co. Inc., may face penalties if NIA rejects its appeal for a 200-day extension, said John Socalo, NIA Cordillera director.

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Work delays and a typhoon forced Kalinga rice farmers to suspend work during a cropping season in 2015 because the system could not channel irrigation water from the Chico River.

NIA officials accompanied WB representatives from May 24 to 27 to check on the progress of work on UCRIS and the P399-million rehabilitation of the West Apayao Abulug Irrigation System (WAAIS) in nearby Apayao province.

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Socalo said the WAAIS rehabilitation is 60 percent complete but work on UCRIS is only 46 percent done.

The WAAIS and UCRIS projects are among 58 projects funded by a $113.59-million loan package under the WB participatory irrigation development project (PIDP).

“If our central office does not grant the contractor an extension, liquidated damages will be imposed on the contractor, to be  computed at 1 percent of the total project cost for each day of delay,” Socalo said.

UCRIS has been discharging water from the Chico River since January, allowing farmers to resume work. Last year, the absence of water disrupted farming in 11,300 hectares of rice  fields in Tabuk City and Pinukpuk town in Kalinga and Quezon town in Isabela province.

Kalinga is the top rice producer in Cordillera.

Because of the monsoon season, strong river current has restricted work at UCRIS, Socalo said.

On June 2, farmers found that another NIA contractor was repairing a weakened portion of the UCRIS main canal that was repaired in January after it was washed out when Typhoon “Ineng” hit Northern Luzon last year.

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But WAAIS’ rehabilitation program is on schedule and expected to be completed this year, Socalo said. The system would serve 1,742 ha of farms in Pudtol and Luna towns in Apayao, and 2,815 ha in Abulug and Pamplona towns in Cagayan province.

“The rains might cause some delays but we are hopeful that the contractor would be able to finish the rehabilitation work by August,” Socalo said.

Work on WAAIS was suspended in 2015 due to the strong current at the Abulug River. Repairs and upgrade work resumed on May 16.

Socalo said the PIDP loan agreement should have lapsed in March but WB agreed to extend it until February 2017. Kimberlie Quitasol, Inquirer Northern Luzon, and Estanislao Albano, contributor

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TAGS: Cordillera, Irrigation, Kalinga, Monsoon, National Irrigation Administration, project, Tabuk, Upper Chico River Irrigation System
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