Home Culture Giant seawall project brings sense of safety to Tacloban villagers

Giant seawall project brings sense of safety to Tacloban villagers

Giant seawall project

TACLOBAN CITY – For passersby, the giant seawall here is a perfect place for walking and feeling the sea breeze, but for residents living just a stone’s throw away from the structure, its presence brings them peace of mind.

After eight years of construction, the big-ticket project has begun to achieve its purpose – to shield residential areas from destructive waves brought by typhoons over the past years, according to some residents of San Jose District, a community badly hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

Fish vendor Joselito Balgos, 46, said they could sleep peacefully at night even if there’s a low-pressure area or a weak typhoon because of the sea wall.

For him, a good sleep is a must as he must wake up as early as 3 a.m. to trade fish before the temperature starts to rise.

“The structure took away the trauma that haunted us after experiencing the wrath of Yolanda 10 years ago. With this physical barrier, I am sure we won’t go through the same ordeal again during calamities,” said Balgos, a father of three.

Ronald Satore, 40, who has been supporting his wife and four children through fishing, is confident that the project serves its purpose, which is to protect communities.

He recalled surviving the 2013 killer typhoon by floating on the sea for hours. His family moved to a nearby evacuation center, and he was home alone on Nov. 8.

“If ever a typhoon with the same magnitude as Super Typhoon Yolanda hits our place again, the damage will not be severe. It will be easy for us to recover everything since the current will not carry debris and even people to the sea,” he said.

Satore raised the possibility for the government to provide an area for fishermen to dock their boats safely during calamities.

Started in 2016, the giant seawall, officially named the Leyte tide embankment project, was about 62 percent complete as of end-February 2024, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) reported on Friday.

It serves as a protection for communities in this city and the nearby towns of Palo and Tanauan from destructive waves. It has stainless steel flap gates and river gates with actuators. It has a bike lane with railings, ramps, and streetlights.

The project, standing 30 meters from the shoreline, is meant to protect 33.7 square meters of property and 33,185 houses and buildings.

Earlier, DPWH 8 (Eastern Visayas) Director Edgar Tabacon said building the 38.12-km. storm surge protection from this city to nearby Tanauan town has been very challenging.

“Since the start of construction in 2016, we have been addressing several issues. We are a democratic country, and we cannot ignore opposition, but we will try our best to complete this project within the term of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.,” he said.

The project’s completion date depends on the funds downloaded by the national government.

Of the project’s estimated PHP12.14 billion budget, PHP9 billion has been released since 2016 for the 19-km. flood mitigation structure and a 5.43-km. backwater dike.

As of end February, the DPWH reported the completion of 19.21 km. of 38.12 km. of structures, while 5.27 km. are ongoing and 13.64 km. have yet to start. (With reports from Jeselle Grefiel, Del Sevilla & Vanessa Joy Yuzon, OJTs/PNA)