DPWH director: Virac evac center is “100% completed”
posted 18-Aug-2019  ·  
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No less than the regional director of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Bicol confirmed in a news report that the unfinished evacuation center in San Isidro Village, Virac is among the six disaster-resilient evacuations centers his office has completed.

In the report written by Sally Atento and published in the Philippine Information Agency website last July 30, 2019, the DPWH claimed to have completed six of the eight projects allotted for the Bicol region as a “home away from home” for evacuees during calamities and disasters.

It said the completed projects are in barangays Tughan, Juban, Sorsogon; Virac, Catanduanes; Capitol Compound in Cadlan, Pili, Camarines Sur; barangay Sto. Domingo in Vinzons, Camarines Norte; barangay Balading in Malinao, Albay; and, barangay Bolod in San Pascual, Burias Island, Masbate.

The two other evacuation centers in Libon, Albay and Tinambac, Camarines Sur are targeted for completion before end of this year, the PIA report stated.

“The selection of project sites undergone intensive evaluation process to ensure that the structures will be safe during disasters,” DPWH 5 Regional Director Virgilio Eduarte told the PIA. “Our region is visited by almost 8 to 9 typhoons per year not to mention the earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, flooding and landslides. So, we really have to be vigilant in the selection process.”

According to DE Eduarte, the project site requires a minimum of 3000 square meters lot area to house a two-storey accommodation building, one-storey toilet and bath, three-storey laundry/drying and elevated water tank, a power house and other structures that may be deemed necessary by the provincial, city or municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office.

The design of the structures and facilities are gender sensitive giving comfort and ease to women, children, senior citizens and physically challenged individuals.

Separate toilets/bath areas for male and female, ramps, railings, water/lighting facilities and fixtures are also constructed to address the basic needs of targeted beneficiaries.

The evacuation centers will serve as venues for disaster trainings, calamity drills, information education campaigns and other disaster preparedness activities during normal times, the PIA press release added.

Last week, former Catanduanes assistant provincial engineer and now SIV Kagawad Engr. Wilson Sorra, who chairs the council’s infrastructure committee, and committee member Kagawad Willy Zuniega inspected the complex to verify the Tribune report.

They said the evacuation center inside the Virac LGU’s community hub is only about 75% finished, having seen with their own eyes that the contractor still has to finish the ground floor slab, concrete ramps, wall finishing, doors and windows, electrical and plumbing works, and other items.

The two barangay officials expressed their disappointment at the DPWH’s failure to complete the project in time, stressing that had it done so, their constituents would have a typhoon-proof building to shelter from powerful winds of any incoming typhoon in the latter half of the year.

According to a DPWH insider, the Virac evacuation center was in a cluster with the Sorsogon project, with the bid won by one AC Rivero Development Corporation based in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.

The contract was allegedly subcontracted by a Sorsogon-based construction company, which “sold” it to another contractor who likewise “sold” it to an Albay-based company.

The last “winner” reportedly thought that the subcontracted project involved only the Sorsogon facility but had to work on the Virac project later on.

Upon completing the Sorsogon project, the Albay contractor tried to claim 100% payment for the cluster but could not do so as the Virac project was still unfinished despite a report of the DPWH-5 project engineer that it was 100% completed.

To compound the contractor’s woes, he lost by less than a thousand votes in the mayoralty race in his native town in Camarines Norte.

It is claimed that there remains P17 million in the contract’s funding, with the DPWH reportedly looking for another contractor willing to finish the Virac project.

Three other evacuation centers worth P37 million are set to be built in Viga, Pandan and San Andres, with funds coming from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

However, a DPWH official warned, the three centers would have galvanized iron (GI) roofing which would make them prone to heavy damage during typhoons and thus expose evacuees to injury and exposure to the elements.

The Virac project, it is claimed, was originally a similar evacuation center with GI roofing but the administration of former Mayor Samuel Laynes asked the NDRRMC and DPWH to replace the design by insisting on a concrete roofing. The design change eventually resulted in an increase of the project cost to P50 million.

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