By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) has failed to execute some 436 irrigation projects in 2017 with an aggregate amount of P11.94 billion on the weight of some issues such as Right-of-Way (ROW) problems, peace and order situation in project areas, and delay in the release of funds and budget allocation process.
The agency hopes to address these issues as it seeks an unprecedented budget of P55 billion for next year.
A statement showed that NIA has just recently conducted a review regarding the non-completion of its 436 irrigation projects — of which Sta. Josefa Pump Irrigation Project (SJPIP) in Agusan del Sur, which would take P551.92 million to build, suffered the longest delay of more than seven years.
Based on its assessment, NIA faces delays in project implementation because of ROW issues, peace and order situation, delay in the release of funds and budget allocation process, delays incurred in the bidding process of civil works that attribute to the late start of contract works, unworkable site condition within the project area due to bad weather, ongoing farming activities, and poor contractors’ performance resulting to extension in project implementation.
Nevertheless, the agency said these issues are already being addressed by NIA Administrator Ricardo Visaya.
He also gave “stern warning” to NIA field management offices to closely monitor project implementation so that any problem that may arise can be resolved immediately.
In order to ensure that all right-of-way claims are first settled before the start of project construction, NIA is now aiming to include ROW funding on its 2019 budget which will serve as a common fund from central office.
For next year, NIA is seeking a budget of P55 billion, which is higher than its actual budget of P41.6 billion this year and its proposed 2018 budget of more than P50 billion.
In order to resolve relevant issues concerning with the peace and order situation in project areas, the agency has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the security of NIA projects.
The agency is now ascertaining that despite some issues in project implementation, the construction of high quality of dams and irrigation projects that will last for 50 years or more is assured.
As for SJPIP, which started in 2008, the project construction was not continuously undertaken due to “factors that are beyond control,” according to NIA.
With the assistance of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary (OCS), a funding worth P140 million was allocated for SJPIP for2018.