• ‘Build, Build, Build’ with the environment in mind


    Ma. Isabel Ongpin

    SO, we are going into Build, Build, Build in the immediate future as promised by the Duterte administration. In general, this is most welcome after years of infrastructure neglect and the consequent price that the population of this country has had to pay, particularly the working population.

    Yes, let us have those bridges over the Pasig and the subway and the connector roads and the new LRT destinations and expansions.

    But as in any massive construction, particularly in busy, congested areas where unplanned growth is in place, it will take some doing to keep things moving along with the slightest of disturbances. This accomplishment would be ideal but realistically is very doubtful unless we focus on how best to do it. Let us hope there are resources that can be consulted for expertise in handling the intrusions of urban construction into the daily life of the city that will minimize the upheaval.

    More important, it is to be hoped that there will be environmental measures taken that will not cause damage or ruin to the environment in the process of construction.

    I refer to where the detritus from digging, stockpiling supplies, care of ingress and egress of streets as well as the tampering with Nature like trees, waterways, soils and even air quality. If environmental destruction accompanies Build Build Build, we will not be better off. We will lose something vital. The quality of life needs Nature besides modern infrastructure.

    Already an environmentally aware group has called the attention of the Department of Public Works and Highways to the erosion they have caused in their careless road-building which has found its way to the sea and is partly causing the death of corals around our archipelago.

    I believe this to be true from observing how the DPWH or its contractors (for whose actions they are responsible) goes about its infrastructure-building. In the widening of the road to the North, their recent actuations were cutting trees indiscriminately. When there was a hue and cry, they slyly poured salt on the tree roots of trees they wanted out of the way, in effect killing them and therefore having a reason to cut down the tree. They have also left rubble from the old roads that they destroyed by the wayside, abandoned excavated soil, tree roots and other detritus near drainage canals or the shoulders of the road. When the rains come these materials are moved by force of gravity to waterways and end up in the sea. Though much is still visibly left to be an obstruction, or a bad scene of neglect and unconcern for those who have to live with it. But what is not seen also has a lethal effect as in eroded soil overwhelming corals to their death.

    Eastern European countries which modernized with roads and factories after World War 2 did so without caring for the environment. In fact, they disturbed and destroyed it, leaving wasteland, polluted waterways and contaminated soil making the places where it happened virtually unlivable. This is a cautionary tale for us. If we Build Build Build let us not in the process Destroy, Destruct, Diminish, particularly the natural environment.

    The example of how China modernized without protecting its environment resulting in massive pollution affecting the health and the quality of life of its people should be a lesson to be learned. Now China has learned its lesson and is making an effort to mitigate the damage. It is costing much in terms of funds, people’s health and standard of living. Let us prevent that from happening.

    In other words, as we Build Build Build, let us protect the environment. It will be necessary to pay for consultants, introduce procedures and designs to be environmental as well as constructive. Time and money and effort must be spent in paying heed to environmental factors because they are worth keeping as they should be. Construction with an eye to environmental protection should be the norm. It can be done. This is the modern way and there are systems in place to do so. Let’s be modern in the right way.


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