EDITORIAL - Flood uncontrolled

The Philippine Star

Solving a problem starts with identifying and acknowledging its cause. In the past days, agencies have engaged in finger-pointing and shielding a pet project of the previous administration from criticism over the massive floods that have paralyzed parts of Manila.

While the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority denied that the dolomite beach along Manila’s Baywalk area was to blame, the Department of Public Works and Highways admitted that the artificial beach project “partly” caused the flooding that was so deep motorists refused to drive their vehicles through the water, bringing traffic to a standstill.

Last Friday, the western portion of Manila turned into a massive parking lot during the evening rush hour. This was after monsoon-induced continuous rain that began Thursday, but which weather forecasters said was not heavy enough to warrant the issuance of color-coded rainfall and flood alerts. A similar problem, although on a lesser scale, was again experienced earlier this week.

The MMDA is in charge of internal drainage in Metro Manila, but it pointed to three unfinished pumping stations and a pipeline being constructed by the DPWH as the cause of the flooding that took hours to subside.

The DPWH, for its part, explained that the project is taking longer to finish because the Department of Environment and Natural Resources required the extension of pipes by another 300 meters along with enhanced pumping capacity to ensure that dirty water does not soil the dolomite beach, a project of the DENR.

Completion of the drainage project is targeted in the middle or end of September, according to the DPWH. In the meantime, instead of floodwaters draining directly into Manila Bay, the water is diverted to Pasig River through the Balete pumping station.

Does this mean the public will have to put up for at least another month with torrential flooding each time there is a heavy downpour? The pandemic lockdowns ended last year. Why weren’t mitigation measures put in place before the onset of the monsoon and typhoon season? Essential public works projects could be exempted from the election ban.

The MMDA says a mobile pump may be temporarily used to allow floodwaters to discharge directly into Manila Bay without passing through the dolomite beach. So at least there’s a glimmer of a solution. The government must get to work on it quickly.


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