MANILA, Philippines – A new 400-hectare “township” with thousands of houses, public utilities, access to the sea, and even a branch of the University of the Philippines will soon rise in typhoon-ravaged Tacloban City, its mayor said.
“It’s really building a town, so it really takes time,” Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez said Tuesday, October 28, in a forum with the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.
Romualdez said the township, a 300- to 400-hectare area in the northern part of Tacloban, will include features such as the following:
- a water distribution facility, including a sewer system
- a road network
- structures such as health centers, a market, and additional classrooms
- a police station
- access to the sea, which is around 8 kilometers away, to help fishermen
Romualdez explained: “It’s not just a question of building 14,500 houses. We have to now build a township. And when you build a township…you have to make sure your utilities can sustain the project. Your utilities now are good not only for the present 14,500 houses that are going to be built, but for even double that population later on.”
He added: “The new township that we’re building, the new frontier in the north, is basically also giving them an incentive – an incentive that from where they were staying, now you’ve got a township that has value, a township that…when you stay there, you will have something that you can be proud of and you will have as an asset. You will own it.”
Tacloban was the city worst hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) on November 8, 2013, or almost a year ago.
Township on ‘prime land’
During the forum on Tuesday, Romualdez added he has been asked why Tacloban will build the township on “prime land.” “That’s not cheap,” he said.
“And I said, yes, because our people deserve the best, because it’s investing in our people, and we have to invest…. And the government must look at it as an investment, not just an expense. And we have to create value there, so investors will go there,” the mayor added.
The basic challenge, however, is to build permanent shelters for homeless Yolanda survivors.
Romualdez said he expects 400 of the needed 14,500 permanent houses to be “finally built” by November 8. These comprise around 2.75% of the needed houses in Tacloban City.
The national government earlier said Yolanda left at least 550,928 houses totally damaged across the Philippines.
Groups have criticized the government for the delay in building permanent shelters.
In May, a fatal accident brought public attention to the problem of homeless survivors. Back then, a mother and her 5 children, including a 4-month-old baby, died after fire razed their tent in Tacloban.
This prompted the United Nations refugee agency to push for permanent shelters for Yolanda survivors. – Rappler.com
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