Issue of June 18, 2017

Plus Juan
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Gibraltar riprap collapse due to poorly built drainages
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

CLARIFICATIONS -- Suntrust Properties Inc. President Harry Paltongan explains to Baguio officials led by Mayor Mauricio Domogan and heads of City Hall departments and the DWPH that the defective sewer lines caused the collapsed of sections of Gilbraltar Road located above their project site. Domogan has ordered all parties to fast track the rehabilitation of the road to be opened for the public in two months. -- Contributed photo


The June 16 meeting of key city department officials and representatives of developer Suntrust Properties Inc. (SPI) led by its president Harry Paltongan convened by the City Mayor’s Office has established the deficiencies in the construction of the riprap walls along Gibraltar Road by the contractor of the Baguio City District Engineering Office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (BCDEO-DPWH).

The meeting called by Mayor Mauricio Domogan was attended by heads of the BCDEO-DPWH, City Environment and Parks Management Office, City Buildings and Architecture Office, City Engineers Office, SPI executives, and other concerned officials.

The findings were earlier presented by Vice President for Legal Atty. Basilio Almazan Jr. at the city council in one of its sessions last May, when SPI officials were invited to answer the complaints of residents, who blamed the company and its ongoing housing project construction for the collapse of the riprap wall that eroded against a portion of the road.

These findings were confirmed during the recent meeting by the City Environment and Parks Management Office, which inspected the area last December.

“We want this to serve as a lesson for the concerned offices to continue monitoring drainage systems that had been installed in the different parts of the city for possible leakage and deficiencies. As had been discovered, it is possible there are other drainages installed that did not follow correct procedures. If not for the incident, other defects would not have been exposed,” Domogan said.

The retaining walls, which traverse the site in Gibraltar where Suntrust excavated to put up its housing project, have eroded three times last year, and in each occasion it was found out that it was due to the wrong installation of the drainage system in April 2016, as the drainage pipes were not sealed with collars and have no proper bedding.

It was also discovered that private sewer lines, one owned by a hotel and another by a stall owner in Mines View, are tapped into the drainage line, further leading to sewage discharges and water flow that saturated the soils even without rains.

The riprap walls eroded in May 19, 29, and June 10, 2016, washing out of a portion of the road.

Gibraltar residents and commercial building owners for months now have been complaining for the inconvenience and danger caused by the collapsed walls and eroded road. They blamed the incident on SPI, whose officials are working on setting the record straight due to the besmirched reputation they claim the company suffered.

BCDEO-DPWH, then under Engr. Alexander Castañeda, directed its contractor GA Flores Construction to do corrective and clearing works from the time the wall first eroded. Corrective and clearing works were initially done but the walls in other sections kept on eroding and more defective reinforced concrete pipes (RCPs) were exposed.

SPI, which rehabilitated some of the sections when the third erosion occurred since the erosions were already affecting their project, discovered other defective RCPs and informed the BCDEO-DPWH about the problem.

BCDEO reminded GA Flores on the proper installation of RCPs, putting of collars, and beddings and stressed on the use of trenches.

SPI and BCDEO officials held further meetings to address the issue, but still the contractor was said to be slow in its restoration works.

During the meeting on Friday, Domogan secured the concurrence of BCDEO now headed by OIC District Engineer Rene Zarate, the CBAO, CEO, Cepmo, and SPI officials to do an ocular inspection on June 20 in order to come up with an inventory of the structures and restoration works done by SPI and BCDEO, decide paying the contractor only what is due and refunding SPI for what it has shouldered, and also to check the methods employed by SPI in their excavation and construction works.

The parties also agreed to finish the riprap rehabilitation in less than 60 days.

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