the proposed tide embankment, called as "Great Wall of Tacloban," by Mayor Alfred Romualdez, as viewed by the project's architect
the proposed tide embankment, called as “Great Wall of Tacloban,” by Mayor Alfred Romualdez, as viewed by the project’s architect

TACLOBAN CITY – The proposed plan to build a P7.9 billion tide embankment in this city and two other towns in Leyte against storm surges should not be given a priority at this time by the national government.

So says Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez who said that the huge amount could be better use in the rehabilitation to help survivors of supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan).

“I would like to make it clear that I am not against the project. I’m against prioritizing it.I don’t believe it is a priority. I believe the priorities are those that would directly and indirectly give social services to our people,” Romualdez said.

The mayor said that for one, providing water facility in the northern part of the city which has been identified as the resettlement site for at least 14,000 families who totally lost their houses due to Yolanda, is far more important and necessary than building on what he called as “Great Wall of Tacloban.”

“If you ask me which is more important-water or a wall? I would say definitely, its water,” Romualdez said.

According to him, it would take about P4 billion to put up a water facility in the northern part of the city where the residents now only depend on water rations provided by the city government or wells.

The national government, through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is to construct a 27.3 kilometer stretch steel and concrete seawall designed to prevent loss of lives and reduce destruction or damages of properties arising from possible occurrence of storm surge just like what happened when Yolanda pummeled Leyte and the rest of Eastern Visayas region on November 8, 2013.

Of the 27.3 kms covered under the project, 20.1 kms are in Tacloban while 4.1 kms will cover Palo and 3.1 kms in Tanauan.

The three areas were the most devastated in Leyte due to Yolanda that killed more than 6,000 people.

The P7.9 billion allocation for the tide embankment, said to be a first of its kind in the entire country with the Japan International Cooperation Agency(Jica) providing the technical assistance, will be source from the DPWH’s annual general budget for the next six years, said DPWH Regional Director Rolando Asis.

The project is expected to start on the last quarter of this year after needed documents like environmental compliance certificate and information drive involving families and owners of buildings that would be affected by the project are complied.

The project is expected to be finished by 2020.

Romualdez also said that if this tide embankment will push through, families still living near the shore or within the 40 meter no build zone will only be embolden to stay.

”So obviously, you have out up a wall so why would these families leave?” he said.

But for Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, the wall will still serve its purpose.

“We still need to impose the no build policy and conduct relocation among families living near the shores. The seawall is not really a guarantee that they will be safe against storm surge but at least minimize the damage,” Petilla said.