Truckers asked to help control floods
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO— With P568 million unavailable yet to clear Sapang Labuan of lahar, the local government is tapping private truckers to take out 960,000 cubic meters of the material to help reduce flooding in Pampanga province.
Truckers tapped by the provincial and local governments as well as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) can make 16,000 truckloads to remove lahar that has worsened flooding. Lahar consists of ash, sand, mud and pumice stones expelled when Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991.
In exchange, the Pampanga government offered to exempt them from paying fees totaling P430 per truckload. The truckers can sell what they haul to developers.
Property developers are also encouraged to extract filling materials from Sapang Labuan.
The desilting of Sapang Labuan, included in the Pampanga Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council plan, is the provincial government’s contribution to several flood-mitigation measures of the DPWH in Pampanga where floodwater of Central Luzon drains via the Pampanga River toward Manila Bay.
“[But] lahar on Sapang Labuan is good only as pantambak (filling materials) so hauling it will not compete with the commercial quarrying for sand that is used by the construction industry,” Vice Gov. Dennis Pineda said on Monday.
Lahar, however, could be donated by local governments to ongoing government and civic projects, he said.
Enrico Guilas, chief of the DPWH Pampanga first district engineering office, said 3.5 kilometers of Sapang Labuan need to be desilted to improve its capacity to hold floodwater.
The Sapang Labuan is fed by the Pasig-Potrero River from the watershed of Mt. Pinatubo. From there, water drains to Gugu River, which takes in more water from rivers in the City of San Fernando and Sto. Tomas and Minalin towns. Past the tail dike traversing those areas, the water moves towards Guagua and Sasmuan before exiting to Pasac River and Manila Bay.
Pineda said consultations with the local governments in the City of San Fernando, Sto. Tomas, Minalin, Guagua and Sasmuan have begun before the final proposal is submitted to the provincial board for approval.
“The province cannot do it alone. We could save money and time if we work together to desilt Sapang Labuan,” Pineda said in a statement. —TONETTE OREJAS
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