Dredging of silted Maguindanao waterways started

Climate Change/Environment • Sun Aug 6, 2017 07:52 AM  •  67   0
By John Unson
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 A dredging machine is now clearing from silt a large, oft-flooded river in Pandag town in Maguindanao. (JOHN UNSON)
A dredging machine is now clearing from silt a large, oft-flooded river in Pandag town in Maguindanao. (JOHN UNSON)
MAGUINDANAO ---- Engineers have started removing debris blocking rivers as initial remedy to the perennial flooding in riverside rice fields in Maguindanao province

Personnel of Maguindanao’s provincial engineering office deployed early this week a dredging machine in Pandag town to excavate thick silt deposits from a large river there that overflows during rainy days.

The dredging operation is being funded solely by the office of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu.

“Our engineers will do their best to make these rivers become deep again so that we can prevent the spread of floodwaters to riverside farming areas during the rainy days,” Mangudadatu said on Saturday.

Barangay leaders in flood-stricken towns in Maguindanao have urged the central office of the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Mindanao Development Authority (MINDA) to help in the dredging operation.

The MINDA, whose office is in Davao City, has a river management and flood control program for central Mindanao, where the oft-flooded Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces are both located.

The provincial government of Maguindanao procured dredging equipment in 2016 using money borrowed from the Land Bank of the Philippines.

Maguindanao, which means “flooded plains” in the ethnic Maguindanaon dialect, is crisscrossed by rivers and dotted with swamps that connect to central Mindanao’s 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta.

The delta is a catch basin for dozens of rivers that spring from forested mountains in Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, North Cotabato and Bukidnon provinces.

Commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) residing in villages traversed by rivers have promised to help watch over the equipment of the provincial government.

The MILF and Malacañang are bound by an interim security deal, the July 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities, to cooperate in maintaining law and order in potential conflict flashpoint areas.

Mangudadatu said the excavated silt and aggregates shall be deposited along riversides as parallel flood control mounds to prevent floodwaters from the rivers from spreading through nearby barangays during rainy days.

The rivers that straddle through Maguindanao converge in Cotabato City first before flowing downstream to the city’s western seacoast to drain at the Moro Gulf.

Dozens of barangays in Maguindanao that are located along the Liguasan Delta were flooded last month after downpours swelled the heavily-silted rivers in the province.
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