June 22, 2024

The project monitoring team of the City Environment and Parks Management Office (Cepmo) has been called out by the city council for allowing the contractor of the Wright Park multipurpose building to proceed with the construction despite the Department of Public Works and Highways’ directive for it to instruct the contractor to stop and rectify the many defects found in the project first.

The project, which covers two buildings, costs P49.5 million is funded by the DPWH.

The DPWH-Baguio City District Engineering Office (BCDEO) has reported the contractor’s deficiencies to the Cepmo on May 29 and June 20.

But based on the July 21 reinspection report of BCDEO, the Cepmo has not issued any instruction for contractor Khatib Construction to correct the deficiencies and defects. 

Deficiencies and defects are the absence of gravel bedding laid under structures to fill; improper bending of ties and stirrups; twisted columns due to improper installation of reinforcing steel bars of columns; use of rusty reinforcing steel bars; mixture of concrete does not conform to DPWH specifications; no test results of reinforcing steel bars; incorrect alignment of columns; and non-compliance to the approved project plan.

The BCDEO site inspection report furnished to Cepmo Head Rhenan Diwas also recommended for the excavation of the building’s columns to determine the extent of non-conformity in the installation of tie beams.

Tie beams help make a building or structure stable by increasing stiffness.

Other findings of the BCDEO are the contractor’s insufficient manpower; no project and materials logbooks on site; no test results for concrete poured footings, beams, and columns presented during inspection; incorrect alignment of columns; and improper installation of project billboard.

The BCDEO said if the contractor will not address the defects and deficiencies, the project might not be completed by Dec. 31 and could result in the termination of the memorandum of agreement with the city government.

If terminated, the funds initially downloaded to the city government by the DPWH have to be returned to the national government and the balance will no longer be released.

Councilor Isabelo Cosalan, Jr. said the city should avoid a repeat of the Athletic Bowl youth convergence center project, which the Commission on Audit consi-ders as unimplemented as the project is not the same as the one contained in the approved appropriation for the DPWH.

Members of the council rebuked the Cepmo for allowing the contractor to proceed when the numerous defects and deficiencies found have already compromised the building’s stability and should have been enough basis to terminate the contract.

“It’s a mortal sin in (civil) engineering. Even a foreman can understand that the design was not followed. Para sa akin wala ng cre-dibility ‘yung contractor. Alignment lang ng poste, hindi pa ma-align, then the contractor tried to bend the bars para mag-align. Ito ba ang qualified contractor according to the BAC (Bids and Awards Committee)?Councilor Michael Lawana said.

Ado kinillo-killo da diay foundation which is not acceptable,” Councilor Arthur Allad-iw said and stressed the city government will be blamed for not acting on the BCDEO’s instruction.

“Sisisihin ang LGU dahil wala ta-yong ginawa,” Allad-iw said.

Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan was also suspicious about how Khatib Construction was awarded the two contracts to construct the two buildings at Wright Park, saying this could be a “sweetheart deal” between the contractor and the BAC and that former members of the pro-ject monitoring team from the Cepmo could be covering up for the contractor.

Olowan also questioned the Cepmo’s technical competence in assessing civil works projects when this is an area that should be handled by either the City Buildings and Architecture Office (for vertical infrastructure) or the City Engineering Office (for horizontal infrastructure).

“According to the DPWH-BCDEO, -70 percent ang slippage samantalang sa Cepmo -10 percent. Kung hindi n’yo kaya, sabihin n’yo,” Olowan told the new project monitoring team recently created by the mayor.

He said the funds allotted for the project will go to waste if the city government will be made to return the amount because concerned offices did not act on the BCDEO report. 

He also said the council can suggest to Mayor Benjamin Magalong to revamp composition of the BAC, echoing complaints of Baguio-based contractors that unqualified contractors are able to win contracts from City Hall.

The council approved eight courses of action regarding the issue. These include asking the opinion of the City Legal Office on the possibility of terminating the contract with Khatib Construction; for the Cepmo to submit to the BCDEO project logbook, materials logbook, concrete pouring permit, and materials test results.

The new project monitoring team, which now include the CBAO, was instructed to furnish the city council a project progress report and submit the “crash program” of the contractor so the body is informed if the contractor is able to execute the program of work based on the timeline.

A crash program is a method used to speed up a project’s timeline.

The council also urged the contractor to finish the pro-ject before December this  year; for the BCDEO inspectorate team to update the council on a monthly basis about changes in the project if there are any; and for the new project monitoring team to strictly monitor other projects in the city.

The CBAO, CEO, and Cepmo were also tasked to submit a report about unimplemented projects for the past three years which will become the basis for the council to decide if it will revert allotted funds for these projects. – Rimaliza A. Opiña