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Kaliwa Dam cost doubles to $800M after Dominguez picks China over Japan

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The Kaliwa Dam will reportedly double in cost and affect over 1,000 families after Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez chose to tap Chinese loans instead of a private Japanese company to undertake the construction of Metro Manila’s new water source.

Osaka-based Global Utility Development Corp. Ltd. (GUDC) chief executive officer Toshikazu Nomura said it was still interested in building the Kaliwa project under a 25-year Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) scheme for only $410 million.

In a press conference, GUDC claimed that the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project would cost the government $800 million at a capacity of 600 million liters per day or roughly double the $410 million GUDC proposal at 550 million liters per day.

UGDC will finance the project 100 percent under a BOT contract while the government would borrow 85 percent of the amount from China. Dominguez signed in 2017 a financing agreement for the Kaliwa Dam with China covering an initial $234.92 million for Phase 1 and Phase 2 of Laiban Dam.

UGDC said its proposal would not displace any families unlike the China project which would affect more than 400 familiies in Infanta, Quezon and 4,000 individuals in Tanay, Rizal.

UGDC also proposed to finish the project in 36 months (from July 2019 to June 2022) while the China proposal would take 50 percent longer or 54 months (from January 2020 to June 2024).

“Our proposal was first presented to the (Philippine) government in 2009 to address the need for water in Metro Manila and it holds true today, more than ever,” Nomura said.

“We propose to build a water source that not only meets the capacities needed by MWSS (Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System), but also utilizes a long-term, sustainable approach in consideration of communities and livelihoods in the area,” he added.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by both parties then. The GUDC again submitted the proposal in September 2017 on the request of the MWSS Board.

Vice President Leni Robredo had questioned why the Duterte administration decided to switch from Japan to China for the Kaliwa project despite the glaring disadvantage. “Ang 85 percent, utang natin sa China, 15 percent tayo iyong gagastos. So, hindi ko talaga alam, kung bakit mas gugustuhin nating umutang kaysa wala tayong gagastusin. Kasi noong 2014, iyong approved na project, talagang walang gagastusin iyong gobyerno…. Bakit uutang tayo na puwede naman na hindi tayo gagastos?” the Vice President said.

Under the BOT scheme, Kaliwa Intake Weir will have a seven-meter-high weir with a 16-kilometer-long tunnel that has a diameter of 3.3 meters.

Included in the proposal is the construction of a water treatment plant within the vicinity. It will have a construction period of 36 months.

“If we start by June 2019, the project can be completed within this (Duterte) administration,” Nomura said.

He said that their proposal addresses the issue of the imminent inundation of Daraitan Village under the current MWSS project.

“The design of the weir and associated facilities takes a highly sustainable approach. We are conscious of lessening the impact on the surrounding communities, particularly Daraitan Village. This makes it a win-win for all stakeholders, especially the affected LGUs,” Nomura said.

A weir, or low head dam, is a barrier across the horizontal width of a river that alters the flow characteristics of water and results in a change in the height of the river level.

Nomura said the weir is a viable alternative to building a dam and will sufficiently deliver the capacity required by the MWSS.

He expressed the hope that the MWSS would finally honor the MOU it signed with GUDC in 2009.

“We are supportive of President Duterte’s vision for Kaliwa Dam. We are ready, and we are committed to delivering this project within the soonest possible time should it be reconsidered,” Nomura said.

The GUDC has been doing construction and engineering projects in the Philippines over the past decade.

It is currently building the 300-megawatt Calaca-2 coal-fired power plant in Batangas, and the National Network of 500-kilovolt transmission line from Naga City to Lucena City-Kalayaan-San Jose, in Quezon province. (With a report from PNA)

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