The water extraction system of the Butuan City Water District (BCWD) at Taguibo River may have been sabotaged, thereby exacerbating the effect of Typhoon Seniang in December last year and reducing by 40 percent BCWD’s production output.
This possibility surfaced after engineers of BCWD discovered that the steel cover of its manhole in the river was missing, allowing sand and other debris to penetrate the infiltration gallery thereby clogging the passage of water towards the main transmission pipeline.
BCWD spokesperson Ramil Barquin said in a statement that “the possibility the steel cover was intentionally removed to worsen the effects of Seniang on their facility cannot be discounted because it was unlikely that high currents at the river could dislodge the heavy cover.”
“The infiltration gallery is a network of perforated pipes located five meters below the river. It is used to collect the water through intervening sand and gravel filters going to the main transmission line. BCWD closes the gallery during heavy rains, thus the removal of the steel cover had very serious negative effects as debris entered the system,” Barquin said.
As to who would have the motives to sabotage BCWD’s facility, several sources in Butuan have said that no less than top city local officials had been particularly allegedly interested in BCWD projects, including BCWD’s public-private partnership (PPP) program—P565-million Bulk Water Supply and Water Treatment Project awarded to and wholly financed by Taguibo Aquatech Solutions Corp.
The sources also said that local city officials had allegedly tried to exert pressure for the award of the project to the firm, Abejo Waters of Cebu, in spite of its failure to comply with the basic requirements set for the PPP project.
Other local city officials even brought in Korean investors while another councilor participates in the bidding of other BCWD projects have banded together in attacking BCWD’s latest PPP project.
The top local city officials were also seen allegedly influencing the Sangguniang Panglungsod into opposing the project, while an agency under the city government through its Environmental and Natural Resources Office issued an “inaccurate report” that delayed but did not stop the project proponents from securing an Environmental Clearance Certificate.