GARBAGE OVER FLOOD
Osmeña hit for prioritizing garbage collection over flood control program in 2018 budget
It takes only 20 minutes of heavy rain for floodwaters to reach knee-deep in downtown Cebu City.
Yet flood control appears to be not a priority of the city government based on the proposed 2018 budget.
Under the proposed P6.3-billion annual budget for next year, drainage and flood control program got an allocation of only P3.5 million, and P4 million for other supplies and material expenses.
In contrast, garbage collection and other related activities were given a whopping P381.9 million.
The bulk of the budget — P313 million — was set aside for the city’s privatized garbage-hauling services.
The disparity received a scathing post from opposition Councilor Joel Garganera in his Facebook page.
“2018 Budget for Maintenance of Drainage and Flood Control Program is only 3.5 Million. ‘Walay kwarta sa Baha na-a sa Basura’. -#Panday,” Garganera wrote.
In an interview, Garganera recalled that Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña criticized the administration of his predecessor, former mayor Mike Rama, saying that it was spending too much on garbage disposal.
Yet, he added, Osmeña was doing the same — spending too much on garbage.
Garganera, who used to head the Cebu City Council’s committee on environment, pointed out that in 2016, the city spent only P37.3 million for its garbage collection and disposal program. But after Osmeña took over, he added that the city spent about P313 million in 2017 for private haulers’ services — the same amount being proposed for next year.
“Garbage is everybody’s concern. I’m very happy that it is his priority. But the burden lies in him. It was him who accused the previous administration for spending too much on garbage. Now, he is spending three, four or five times more,” Garganera said.
“These are figures, and figures don’t lie,” he added.
In contrast, Garganera said the executive was not taking serious steps in addressing flooding and drainage problems in the city.
Under the proposed 2018 annual budget, the Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW) allocated P3.5 million for maintenance of drainage and flood control program, and another P4 million for other supplies and materials expense.
Another P23.3 million worth of flood control systems in various barangays had been allocated under the city’s Local Development Fund (LDF). These budget allocations constituted only around 0.48 percent of the total proposed annual budget for 2018.
“It’s starting to become normal that Colon Street becomes a river when it rains. Somehow, we try to accept it as it is already, and the city is not doing anything,” Garganera said.
Last week, heavy rains flooded Colon Street as well as parts of North Reclamation Area, causing a gridlock.
In contrast, the Department of Public Services (DPS) proposed P313 million for the city’s privatized garbage-hauling services under the proposed budget.
Other proposals by the DPS include rental of heavy and other equipment (P65.4 million), supplies and materials for sanitation (P2.5 million) and repair and maintenance for landfill equipment (P1 million).
The total amount for garbage-related expenses is roughly 6 percent of the entire annual budget proposal of the city.
Osmeña said the city was spending on hauling services because his priority was to implement an effective garbage collection.
He said buying garbage trucks may show lower budgetary appropriation, but the city would have to spend on their maintenance.
“We can buy the trucks. That would show less cost in the annual budget, but the city will be spending money every day buying spare parts for maintenance. That’s not in the budget but that is still coming from the city’s fund. We are leasing 21 trucks (11 dump trucks and 10 compactor trucks), but these trucks are doing the work of 60,” said Osmeña.
The city is currently leasing the 21 trucks from Pasajero Motors Corp. (Pamocor) at a rate of P700 per hour.
This is on top of the city’s current contract with Jomara Konstruckt Corp. which is the one hauling the city’s garbage to the private landfill in Consolacion town at P1,296 per ton.
But Councilor Eduardo Rama Jr., who used to head the city’s garbage program during the previous administration, said the city was spending more on the rent of the garbage truck compared to the time of his uncle, former mayor Rama.
During the Rama administration, he said the city paid only P4,500 per day for each 10-wheeler truck rented by the city.
Now, he added, the daily rent had gone up to P16,800 per truck. To purchase a reconditioned truck would cost the city only P800,000, said Rama.
While the contractor pays for the driver, the city spends for the fuel of the garbage trucks as well as the two loaders who accompany the garbage trucks.
Still, Osmeña maintained that the current setup was more advantageous to the city.
“We are leasing per hour, so if one truck breaks down, the contractor should provide for a substitute. We don’t spend for the maintenance and we only pay for the time that the trucks are running,” said Osmeña.
He reiterated that his main priority right now was for the city to effectively collect and keep up with the garbage of the city.
“We collect first, and then when its already effective, we’ll try to cut down the cost,” Osmeña said.
But what about the floods, asked Garganera. He said the city still needed to implement infrastructure projects to address the flooding in the city which had become the “new normal” during heavy rains.
“The sardines has become his flagship project (in solving flooding). But it’s not enough. Discipline should be coupled with the right infrastructure,” he said.
Garganera was referring to the “Basura Mo, Sardinas Ko” program where the city sends compactor trucks to interior sitios. Personnel from the DPS would then give one can of sardines for every plastic bag of garbage handed by the residents living near creeks and waterways.
But Osmeña has been saying that this program would help instill discipline among people to not indiscriminately throw their garbage in waterways and drainage lines which oftentimes clogs drainage and causes floods.
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