June 17, 2024

■  Hanna C. Lacsamana

The construction of the Luna Terraces Permaculture Housing Project in Irisan barangay has been suspended after the contractor stopped construction works following non-payment of its billed job amounting to P35 million.

City Administrator Bonifacio dela Peña said the city has issued the suspension letter after the contractor’s billing for its accomplishment, affirmed by the City Engineer’s Office, was not paid by the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), which is funding the slope development component of the project for P155M.

He said the budget for the housing project is sourced from the escrow fund of the DHSUD. But releases from the escrow fund have been put on hold after the agency, under a new leadership, reportedly found some anomalies in the fund’s management.

“Once this will be threshed out or solved properly, that is the only time they will revive it,” dela Peña said on March 13.

He said it was the DHSUD which selected the contractor and with which it still has a binding contract.

“They are the ones who selected the contractor. Nagkaproblema noong nag-bill na ang contractor dahil hindi ito mabayaran, so huminto sya, and we have to suspend the project,” dela Peña said.

The contractor has only been paid a downpayment of P29M until the escrow fund was suspended.

Dela Peña said they are requesting for the contractor to continue the works pending the payment because the slopes are left bare and exposed, which might erode during rains and soils will flow to the rivers.

He said the city has been meeting with DHSUD representatives and the option that the project will be funded by the city government is considered. However, this is being studied given the arrangement between the DSHUD and the contractor.

The mayor, dela Peña said, anyhow is currently looking out for funds for the project.

He added it is also the appeal of the city government for the DSHUD to honor the ongoing contracts since it is affecting the completion of the project.

He said residences being built should have already been awarded to qualified applicants but the city cannot do the same due to the latest development within the agency.

“This is a national government move, and we agree they can stop the project during evaluation, but we hope they would still allow it to continue since it has already been awarded to the contractor and the contractor is doing its best,” he said.

The construction of the housing structure, which is the other component of the project, has also encountered a snag.

This component is being funded by the National Housing Authority, which downloaded P50M for the construction of the first building.

Dela Peña said big construction equipment needed by the NHA contractors cannot enter the project site, and for this an alternate road that can accommodate said equipment is being constructed.

He said they hope to complete the road within the month and once completed, project construction will resume. The Luna Terraces Permaculture Housing Project has been realized through the city’s partnership with the DHSUD and NHA to reduce the housing backlog in the city and as part of its goal to build safe, resilient, quality, and sustainable communities in adherence to the Sustainable Development Goals.