The better starting point of the Mahiga River clearing

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - October 31, 2013 - 12:00am

There is one great window of opportunity that presents itself following the completion of the barangay elections. This is the chance for the Cebu City administration of His Honor, Mayor Michael L. Rama, to finish drawing its plans for the city. In many forums subsequent to the May polls but before the barangay electoral process, the mayor already made several announcements of his goals. I am sure though that in saying what he wanted to accomplish, he could not lay his cards on the table, so to speak, because, the politician that he is, (like other elected leaders around!), he had some political angles to consider.

This is actually not just an opportunity window. Founded on two facts, it is a task waiting to be done immediately. Time, a poster reads, waits for no one, not even the mayor. First of these two facts is that he has a new mandate that is already four months old. His re-election being considered an affirmation of what he did in his first term, he has on his side a tacit approval by the body politic to proceed with whatever vision he has for the greater mass of our citizenry.

Second, he will no longer have to contend with the forces that were vying for the elective posts in the barangays. Either his favored village candidates have been elected or those opposed to him got the winning votes. In the case of the former, they will simply toe the proverbial line to push what the mayor wants done. With respect to the latter, they will understandably find ways to block what the mayor hopes to achieve, or, at best, just watch idly by.

The mayor already started a very important project that is environment-friendly. This is the ongoing clearing of the Mahiga River in Barangay Mabolo at the North Reclamation area. Its initial stage saw the demolition of unauthorized structures and the subsequent widening the riverbanks. Those opposed to the project, spearheaded by a pawn of the mayor's bitter opponent, realized the illegality of their stand. Their continued usurpation of a public domain put many at a greater risk and the only remaining option was to tear down their houses. Out of the land freed from illegal constructions, the mayor's plan to put up a promenade began to take form. That it is what the people need is beyond debate because the promenade is purely to make sure that no more settlers build their homes thereon.

The target area covered by this project is too far from natural catch basins. Water, poured by torrential rains in great volumes, naturally seeks its level. Many of these natural catchments, however, are located still far away from where the mayor's current Mahiga project is. It is thus conceivable that water inundates many other areas before it finds its way to the present project at the North Reclamation area.

Let me suggest to the honorable mayor to direct the city engineer to study the possibility of clearing immediately the banks of the Mahiga River starting from beside the bridge that links Subangdaku in Mandaue City and Kasambagan in Cebu City. This area serves as the boundary between the two cities. This suggestion is founded on some basis. First, on the side of Cebu City, there are no big buildings constructed yet. Clearing the banks and establishing the boardwalk are operationally efficient and cost effective.

Second, the owners of the lands abutting the river will cooperate. They will derive benefit primarily from the view and smell of a river that is clean and clear. Secondarily it will become business conducive if between their landholdings and the river is a well-kept promenade.

Thirdly, in some of these lands, there are informal settlers. They are the ones who actually impeded the flow of water by extending their structures to the river.  With relocation somewhere else, these occupants will yield the space for the water to flow freely.

If the mayor finishes the drawing of this plan with the Kasambagan project on a must-do-ASAP basis, and pushes it with political will, he will have changed a part of the landscape of Cebu City to a laudable level.

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