Capitol body found nothing wrong with Batalay seawall

Except for an inflated accomplishment report, delayed work and minor deficiencies, a monitoring body has found nothing wrong with a multi-million seawall project in Batalay, Bato, contrary to reports from barangay residents.

According to a report seen by the Tribune, the Provincial Project Monitoring Committee (PPMC) discovered that the approved Statement of Work Accomplished prepared by the project engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways indicated that the project is 80.07% completed as of January 24, 2023.

But the inspection by the members of the committee themselves during their February 16, 2023 visit showed that the actual accomplishment as of that day was only 57%.

The PPMC also learned from measurements that the thickness of the structural concrete revetment ranged from 300 to 350 millimeters, short of the required 400-mm thickness as indicated in the plan approved by the DPWH Catanduanes District Engineering Office.

With the official name “Construction/Maintenance of Flood Mitigation Structures and Drainage Systems-Construction of Batalay Seawall (Sta. Elena),” the project was started by the winning contractor, E.R. Rodriguez Construction Corp., on March 2, 2022 and was supposed to be completed on September 12, 2022.

The completion date for the 290-meter seawall with steel sheet piles has been subsequently revised to October 12, 2022 and then March 11, 2023, after the contractor requested time extensions from DPWH due to unfavorable weather condition at the site.

As of last week, the project with a contract cost of P42,333,900.00 was still unfinished, a resident told the Tribune.

Aside from the finding that it was behind schedule, the PPMC also noted the following deficiencies: incomplete data on the project billboard; absence of a field office for the project engineer where technical and other required documents should be displayed; and absence of emergency kits for Occupational Health and Safety.

It recommended that accomplishments should be in accordance with the approved plans and specifications and that the contractor expedite the construction of the project to avoid slippage and liquidated damages and to optimize the use of the project.

Two Batalay residents interviewed by the committee described the project as beneficial to the community as the barangay is a coastal area and prone to storm surge.

However, it was learned that several residents are signing a petition addressed to the DPWH concerning alleged defects in the seawall’s construction, including the use of common soil and mud as embankment materials instead of hand-laid rock as stated in the approved plans.

There is also photographic evidence that the contractor used broken-up pavement from concreting projects that were the subject of “remove-and-replace” orders from the DPWH due to substandard concrete mix.

As of press time, the Tribune has yet to determine if the use of the concrete blocks from substandard pavements was allowed by the project engineer and the quality control section of DPWH Catanduanes DEO.

A source also furnished video of the contractor’s backhoe allegedly quarrying sand right from the shoreline in front of the seawall, in violation of existing environmental laws, rules and regulations.

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