Bustos Dam. Photo taken on May 2020 during Bulacan officials inspection of the damaged Rubber Gate No. 5. NEWS CORE file photo

SAN RAFAEL, Bulacan–National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Admimistrator Benny Antiporda warns contractor of Angat Afterbay Regulation Dam or Bustos Dam of legal measures to be taken against them for the continuous delay in the replacement of the defective rubber gate in the facility that put to risk the safety of residents. In a phone interview on Tuesday, Antiporda said 

ITP Construction, Inc,  should have already addressed replaces the defective sub-standard Rubber Gate No. 5 since it was already more than two years after the damage was discovered and that there is already an ease in COVID-19 health restrictions. 

Also, Antiporda said, numerous communications were already made to ITP and that they should make the final solution on the problem which put at risk the lives of many people in Bulacan. 

“We have sent ITP multiple communications. Now we are bound to take legal actions against them. ITP should find solution to the problem by themselves. It is them which the government made a deal and not the Chinese company. The safety of the people of Bulacan is at stake here,’ he told  NEWS CORE 

NIA region 3 director Josephine Salazar said the replacement of Rubber Gate No. 5 and the inspection of five other gates of Bustos dam will not proceed aa scheduled on Nov. 18 after partner Guangxi Hydroelectric Construction Bureau Ltd., the Chinese firm supplier and partner of ITP could not come to the country because of a recent lockdown due to COVID-19 virus. 

Salazar received a letter from Isidro Pajarillga Jr., authorized managing officer of ITP Construction, Inc, dated Nov. 4 informing her of the Chinese government lockdown in the Province of Qingdao due to the COVID-19 virus. 

“We would like to inform the NIA that on Nov. 2, we have received advance information thru viber message from our Chinese Supplier representative that the Chinese government has implemented lockdown in the Province of Qingdao in China due to Covid-19 virus cases in the area. In this regard, the scheduled meetings and activities regarding the deflation of the rubber bladder, the visit of the Chinese Engineer and the production of the rubber bladder will be affected,” the letter said. 

Saltazar was earlier assured by ITP  that Guangxi will arrive in the country to replace the found sub-standard-made and defective Gate. No. 5 with a new one. 

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

ITP is behind the 2016 P1-B worth Bustos Dam rehabilitation project which primarily includes replacement of all its 6 old rubber gates after years of usage and operation. Salazarr said 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.Because of the delay in the works, G

ov. Daniel Fernando had earlier threatened to file charges against ITP. Fernando said the replaced rubber gates which lasted for several decades are marked Bridgetone and costs P450-million while the works of ITP used China-made rubber gates worth P80-milion. 

The governor said the previous delay in the works was due to COVID-19, but he said following today’s worldwide ease of health restrictions from the disease, there is no more reason for Rubber Gate. No. 5 not to be replaced with a brand new one and for the 5 other gates to be inspected if there is a need to be replaced. 

The governor reiterates possible need for similar need for replacement of the 5 other rubber gates in fear that those were also weak and defective and and could put to risk the lives of his people constituents living along the rivers and low lying areas. Typhoons, strong rains, mismanaged dams are seen major causes of flash floods in Bulacan including fear of defective dam facilities. 

On May 2020, Gate. No. 5 suddenly deflates on its own and had affected the dam operation. Fernando then called for its replacement. 

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.