OLONGAPO CITY: After the massive flooding in August and September 2013 and the resultant outbreak of leptospirosis, the local government of Olongapo is now dredging its river channel with the help of private individuals and businessmen in the city.
Olongapo started its dredging operation after SM Prime Holdings donated a backhoe worth P2.4 million to help the debt-ridden city unclog its river channel.
Mayor Rolen Paulino has been left with so many debts by previous administrations that his hands are now tied.
Olongapo is saddled with a P5.1-billion debt including some other past due loans that need to be paid.
“The donation of SM is a big help to the city. We cannot afford to buy any equipment due to lack of funds,” Paulino said.
He added that his administration is currently being helped by other businessmen to dredge its river slowly. Two dump trucks have been lent to the city government by a private auctioneer inside the Subic Bay Freeport. Two others have been lent by private individuals, he added.
The backhoe, which arrived on December 2, went right to work after the turn over.
“I have tasked the engineering office to immediately start the dredging of the Kalaklan River, to reduce, if not rid the flooding from the river,” Paulino added.
He added that a study is now being conducted by the Planning and Development Office of the city to determine the actual causes and solutions to the flooding problem.
In August and September the city suffered its worst flooding in years because previous administrations have failed to de-silt the long stretch of Kalaklan River that serves as the main water channel going out to Subic Bay.
Another de-silting effort is being conducted in the Banicain River that began in August.
Rep. Jeffrey Khonghun of Zambales first district, meanwhile, said that he has already asked the Department of Public Works and Highways to conduct a separate dredging program along the upstream of Santa Rita River and at the mouth of Kalaklan River.
Khonghun’s hometown of Subic also suffered massive flooding during the rainy season but he added that Olongapo was hit worst than Subic
He added that a de-silting is also in the works in the municipality of Subic.