TACLOBAN CITY, (PNA) -– The city government here said it has no financial capability to shoulder the cost of power consumption of hundreds of families in bunkhouses after electricity supply was cut off due to unpaid bills.
City Social Welfare and Development Office head Gloria Fabregas said the disconnection of power supply about two weeks ago has affected 308 families taking shelter in a bunkhouse at a National Housing Authority (NHA) lot in Sagkahan district
“This was not included in the budget of the city because it is the primary responsibility of national government,” Fabregas told PNA.
Since the establishment of bunkhouses late 2013, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has been paying for power bills of three bunkhouses in this city, but under initial agreement, the agency would only shoulder the cost for one year.
“The city government is supposed to subsidize the electricity bills after a year,” said DSWD regional information office Vina Aquino.
But Fabregas said the city has no budget for the payment of power bills, which has reached PHP40,000 monthly for each bunkhouse.
“The delay in the construction of permanent housing has affected the utilities of this bunkhouse,” Fabregas told PNA.
The DSWD decided to stop subsidizing the power cost after some dwellers used prohibited electrical appliances such as iron, rice cooker, television, etc., resulting to significant rise of electricity bills.
More than two years after super typhoon Yolanda, nearly 800 families in this city remained in bunkhouses despite completion of permanent houses both by the government and private sector.
Aside from unstable water supply concern in permanent relocation sites, the city government here also found that most families refused to relocate to new houses since the locations are far from schools where their children are enrolled.
Of the 797 families in bunkhouses, 290 are in a private lot in Caibaan village, 308 at the NHA property in Sagkahan district, and 199 in a private lot in Abucay village.
The NHA has already completed 5,000 permanent houses in this city, but only more than 200 units are occupied as of mid-February. Absence of stable water supply has been the major setback in transferring families from temporary shelters to concrete houses. (PNA)
LAP/SARWELL Q. MENIANO