Rosales, Pangasinan—The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said it has set guidelines to ensure the immediate completion of an irrigation facility, which has been stalled for two years during the previous administration.
The agency attached to the Office of the President said it expects the Agno River Irrigation Extension Project (Aricep) to be completed next year. Aricep will irrigate 12,000 hectares more farmlands in six eastern towns of the province.
Aricep Project Manager Engr. Ceferino Sta. Ana said NIA administrator Peter Lavinia has allowed the bidding for the three main siphons of the facility to be done in the agency’s regional office. The central office of the NIA had previously failed to award the contracts.
“Awarding the contracts soonest is necessary as installation of pipelines in the siphon system, before the rainy season starts,” Sta. Ana said.
Some P181 million has been allotted last year for the siphon works and another P900 million will be released this year for the construction of the unfinished 12-kilometer main canal. It connects the east gate of the 65-hectare reservoir to the river systems of Ambayuan, Dipalo and Viray in the towns of San Nicolas, San Quintin, Natividad and Balungao.
The pond’s west gate was opened two years ago, irrigating 12,500 hectares of farmlands in San Manuel, Asingan, Tayug, Santa Maria, Urdaneta, Rosales, Villasis, Alcala and Santa Barbara.
According to Sta. Ana, P1.1 billion was released in the first quarter of 2016 and a contract to work on the main canal was awarded to Northern Builders. But, the supposed failure of the contractor “to move a single pile of earth” delayed the project.
To make up for lost time, the NIA regional office, which was authorized to bid out projects at maximum cost of P50 million, segmented the 12-km main canal stretch and engaged the services of 12 local contractors.
“The scheme would not only speed up works but would also provide opportunities to local contractors,” Sta. Ana said.
“We’re now at 50 percent of the works and we hope to complete the job by March, this year,” he added.
Despite this, Sta. Ana noted that the whole Aricep package is still behind schedule.
“We still have to construct or rehabilitate some 242-kms. of lateral canals, including main farm ditches,” he said, adding that the only way to finish these, he said, “is to go by Administrator Lavinia’s directive: to bid and award the contracts to local firms.”