China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has joined the World Bank in lamenting the slow implementation of the massive flood project in Metro Manila which the two lenders bankrolled.
Referring to the $500-million Metro Manila Flood Management Project, Beijing-based AIIB said “implementation has been progressing slower than the originally agreed timelines.”
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) have been jointly implementing this project since 2018.
“The modernization of one pumping station, Balut, progressed well until the enhanced community quarantine was put in place on Mar. 16, 2020. The extended COVID-19 lockdown has significantly impacted the project’s progress, particularly the procurement process over the first half of 2020,” the AIIB said in its latest monitoring report published this week.
Disbursement of the AIIB’s $207.6-million loan for the project had been likewise slow — only $6 million or 2.9 percent of the commitment was disbursed as of August.
The AIIB nonetheless noted ongoing construction works for Balut pumping station, with one new pump already finished, save for its electrical connection and pump gate which were supposed to be installed last month.
The procurement of $2 million in solid waste management and cleaning equipment was also completed, the AIIB said.
“Preparatory works are ongoing for many activities such as the following: procurement for Vitas, Paco and Labasan pumping station modernization; the first procurement package for dredging; procurement of modern desilting equipment, and the selection of a consulting firm for the preparation of the solid waste master plan,” the AIIB added.
This is the first Philippine project financed by the AIIB, which this year also co-financed with the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) the COVID-19 active response and expenditure support (Cares) program.
On top of the AIIB loan approved in 2017, the Washington-based World Bank also chipped in $207.6 million, while the national government shouldered the remaining $84.7 million.
Last week, the World Bank reported the project’s “moderately unsatisfactory” overall implementation progress.
The Metro Manila Flood Management Project was expected to benefit 1.7 million residents living near 56 “potentially critical” drainage systems across an 11,110-hectare area in Metro Manila which regularly suffered from flooding.
Through this project, currently flood-prone areas in Metro Manila should be free of water within 24 hours following a major rainfall by 2024.
The project involves rehabilitating 36 existing pumping stations and building 20 new ones to be operational four years from now.
Also, the project will minimize solid waste in waterways by enjoining 200 barangays to put in place improved solid waste management programs while also transferring 2,500 informal-settler households into seven in-city resettlement sites away from the 104 kilometers of drainage to be cleaned under the project.
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