Gov. Daniel Fernando during the inspection of the damaged rubber Gate No. 5 of Bustos Dam in May 2020. NEWS CORE file photo

CITY OF MALOLOS–Officials had confirmed that one of the six rubber gates of Bustos Dam is defective and would be replaced with a brand new one by the Chinese firm contractor behind the P1-B worth rehabilitation of Angat Afterbay Regulation Dam or Bustos Dam . 

National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Region 3 Director Josephine Baltazar said  that Guangxi Hydroelectric Construction Bureau Co. Ltd, partner firm of locally-based ITP Construction, Inc. in the dam repair project will replace the found sub-standard-made and defective Gate. No. 5 with a new one before November ends.

Chinese specialist will arrive on Nov. 15 to inspect the five other rubber gates of the Bustos Dam, she told NEWS CORE. 

“Gate No. 5 will be replaced, target date is before the end of November.

For other rubber gates- will be subjected to inspection by Chinese specialist on Nov.15, in time for the end of water delivery for the season,” Salazar said in a text message reply.

The 2016 P1-B worth Bustos Dam rehab project includes replacement of its old six rubber gates after years of usage and operation. 

Upon instruction of NIA Administrator Benny Antiporda, Salazar recently met the heads of concern offices of the Bulacan provincial government who were sent by Gov. Daniel Fernando to assure them of the agency’s continuing prompt actions in addressing the concern on the defective rubber gate of the dam. 

Fernando told reporters on Wednesday that Gate No. 5 was found to be defective and was made with sub-standard materials that prompted them to demand the replacement of similar brand new ones for the five other rubber gates. He said all the six rubber gates of Bustos Dam under its P1-B worth rehabilitation project used one single and the same material. 

“Rubber Gate No. 5 was found defective and was made with a sub-standard material. We are a bit thankful that there is now an action to replace this after we called the attention of the contractors and threaten to sue them. If the five other rubber gates are also found defective, they need to replace them also,” the governor said. 

Salazar told Inquirer that the five other rubber gates will be tested by the Chinese firm om Nov. 15. Fernando wants NIA to facilitate the conduct of the test.

On May 2020, Gate. No. 5 was suddenly deflates on its own and had affected the dam operation. Fernando then called for its replacement. However, Salazar said, the COVID-19 pandemic had stalled the replacement because tests have to be conducted in Australia and Singapore. 

But following today’s worldwide ease of restrictions in COVID-19, Fernando said there is no more reason for Rubber Gate. No. 5 not to be replaced with a brand new one that’s why in a privilege speech last month, he threatened to sue the said two companies if they will continue to ignore the needed replacement. 

Salazar earlier said that the Chinese firm insists that the five other rubber gates are in best condition and would not need replacement. 

Salazar added that the inspection on Nov. 15 will be timely on the end of the wet season cropping of the farmers as it would not affect the operation of NIA to supply their irrigation need. All the six rubber gates had to be deflated during inspection and which would require them to stop the operation of the facility. 

Salazar said of the P1-Billion Bustos Dam rehabilitation project, P80-Million were spent for the said six rubber gates while the other funds were used in the open canal works, gauge and all the rest of the infrastructure works in the dam.

Fernando said the replaced rubber gates which lasted for several decades are marked Bridgetone and costs P450-million. 

Fernando also expressed frustration that the rubber gate manifested the defect in 2020 while the rehab project has yet to be fully completed or was just about 90 done.

He also expressed high concern of a major flash flood if all the rubber gates are sub-standards. Each of the six rubber gates discharges 500 cubic meter per second (cms) of water and if all the six gates are destroyed or damaged, it will burst a raging water volume of 3,000 cms while at only 700 cms, Fernando said the catch basin towns of Hagonoy and Calumpit are already submerged in flood water. 

The delay in the repair of the damaged rubber gate could also impact 15,706 hectares of rice and vegetable area with 12,904 farmers and with an estimated loss of P880,964,445 to P2,690,255,147 worth of agricultural damages.