The Task Force Build Back Better (TFBBB) is stepping up the rehabilitation of the Cagayan River with the removal of huge sandbar that formed a mini island within the country’s largest river.
Environment Secretary and TFBBB Chairman Roy A. Cimatu is hopeful of completing the dredging of the “mega” island sandbar along the Cagayan River next year.
So far, a total of 81,807 cubic meters or 8.43 percent of the targeted 970,962 cubic meters of sandbar has been dredged since the rehab operation in Barangay Dummun, Gattaran town, Cagayan province started in June.
“With its sheer size measuring 134.7 hectares, it is practically an island which is why this sandbar is a priority of the task force like the Magapit Narrows in [barangay] Lallo, Bangag [town] to widen the Cagayan River,” Cimatu said.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have committed to deploying additional equipment and work force to complement the dredging operations in these areas, said Cimatu.
The dredged materials are being transferred to the eroded portion of Cagayan riverbanks in Barangay Dummun to restore the ideal alignment and speed up the water flow toward the river mouth in Aparri, Cagayan.
Because of the continuous rehabilitation effort, DENR-Region 2 Executive Director Gwendolyn Bambalan said the Cagayan River did not overflow during the passage of severe tropical storm “Maring” (Kompasu) in October.
In a report to Cimatu dated October 14, Bambalan said only localized floods were reported in Cagayan as a result of the overflowing of lakes and rivers that drain into the Cagayan River.
“Despite the massive flooding in different locations, the Cagayan River did not overflow. It did not reach its maximum capacity,” Bambalan noted.
“In Sta. Teresita Cagayan, a flash flood was reported due to the overflow of Mission, Bulasing and Luga rivers, Pacac creek and irrigation canals. Flood height reached to one to two meters at Barangay Simpatuyo, while the flooding in other municipalities was localized flooding only affecting agricultural lands,” said Bambalan.
Phase 1 of Cagayan River dredging activities, which focused on the constricted section of the river, called the Magapit Narrows, started in February and was completed on October 4.
A total of 364,143 cubic meters of materials have been dredged, which occupied some 11 hectares along the riverbank and restored Magapit Narrows’ riverbank depth by 3 meters. This has exceeded the target of 344,304 cubic meters of dredged materials.
The TFBBB, co-chaired by the DPWH was created on November 18, 2020, under Executive Order 120. It is an inter-agency body that conducts post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation efforts in areas ravaged by typhoons “Rolly” and “Ulysses.”