Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez.
Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez.

TACLOBAN CITY,  (PNA) – At least 341 newly-completed permanent houses at the city’s relocation sites are still empty, amid government’s goal to move vulnerable families to safer grounds.

Latest reports from the city housing and community development office show that of the 853 completed units constructed by the National Housing Authority and non-government organizations, only 512 are occupied.

Mayor Alfred Romualdez said lack of potable water supply is the main reason why the city government is reluctant on transferring families from high risk zones to resettlement areas.

“We have to rush the water project because that’s what the people need. Even if we can complete 4,000 houses tomorrow, we cannot transfer people because there’s no water,” Romualdez said.

The mayor warned that if authorities will enforce the transfer of families from high risk zones to a waterless community, they would lose trust with the government.

“We promise people to give good relocation site with proper facilities and that’s not happening. I don’t want to reach the point that people won’t trust the government anymore. We have to do our best, but I think this point in time, we have to do more than our best,” he told reporters.

National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Regional Director Bonifacio Uy said the government is addressing the water supply problem in a medium term.

He said the NHA committed to set up water pumps while the Department of Social Welfare and Development has already installed water tanks in resettlement areas.

The central government is also looking for fund sources for the setting up of new water system in the northern part of the city for implementation in the next two years.

“With all the measures being undertaken, I think it’s not anymore valid to delay the transfer of families,” Uy told PNA.

Romualdez urged the national government to “encourage big players to come in and invest.” He suggested that Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III can endorse the project under PPP.

“The water is both local and national problem, but because of scarcity of resources, we need help from the national government,” he added.

The government and NGOs aimed at building 15,731 permanent houses in northern villages of Kawayan, Tagpuro, Cabalawan, Suhi, Sto Nino, New Kawayan, Camansihay, Salvacion, Tigbao, and Sta. Elena. (PNA)