By NITZ ARANCON
MAYOR Oscar Moreno yesterday frowned over Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc.’s claim that the nearly two-week water shortage in many parts of the city resulted from the Sept. 24 earthquake that rocked Wao, Lanao del Sur, and other Mindanao areas.
Moreno said this even as he called on the Cagayan de Oro Water District to “shape up” and to start a revamp.
On Tuesday, Rio Verde vice president for operations Joffrey Hapitan told the city council’s public utilities committee that the firm’s main steel pipeline submerged near the Emmanuel Pelaez Bridge was damaged by the September earthquake. The leaking pipe, he said, was discovered the following day.
It was the first time since the water crisis gripped western parts of the city that Rio Verde faulted the earthquake for the water crisis.
Hapitan’s letter, sent to the COWD earlier, did not have any reference to the September earthquake. In the letter, Hapitan blamed debris brought by the strong river current as a result of bad weather conditions for the pipe damage.
Moreno found Hapitan’s earthquake story unbelievable.
“Kadtong ilang rason nga naigo sa linog was a lame excuse. To me, that was an alibi. Insulto kana sa katawhan. Wala pa maatiman, unya imo pang tagaan og rason… tuntohon pa ninyo,” Moreno was quoted as saying in a City Information Office dispatch.
He blamed the COWD-Rio Verde bulk water supply deal as the main reason for the water shortage.
Moreno said, “Kini man gud bulk water supply ang culprit diha, pero ang problema ang COWD has failed to ensure sufficient supply of water. Why need bulk water supply nga pwede man unta maka-source sa tubig nga dili kinahanglan kana? Pero di man niya makaya, misulod ang Rio Verde.”
Councilor Teodulfo Lao Jr., the committee’s chairman, said he was crossing his fingers on Rio Verde’s assurance that it would be able to comply with its contractual obligation to supply 40 thousand cubic meters to COWD by Friday.
He said the committee was unsatisfied with Rio Verde’s assurance and so, he, other local officials and experts would inspect this morning the site where the firm’s main steel pipeline was damaged.
Lao said the committee wanted to know the progress of the repair and exactly how fast Rio Verde was working on the damaged pipe.
“Maayo nang atong actual gyud nga makita ang ilang trabaho kay sa moto-o lang dayon ta sa ilang storya,” he said.
As for the COWD, Moreno said his stern advice is for the firm to level up.
“We need to level up especially that Cagayan de Oro is a growing city. You can’t support the growth of the city with an anemic water district. Dili na mahimo nga ang pagdumala nila karon sa water district pareho lang gihapon sa una.”
Moreno called for a “massive rehabilitation, reorganization and management revamp” in the COWD, adding that “it seems to me that it had been insensitive.”
He added: “Napasagdan niya ang iyang obligasyon, wala niya mahimo, and its continuing default has led to all of this.”
The mayor cited COWD’s nonevenue water, and the supposed low morale of its employees “to the point that consumers have even put forward a proposal to take over the water district as early as 10 years ago.”
Moreno said, “From a company that was admired before, it has become subject of severe criticisms which became pointed and brutal over the years.”
He said he was not into a “blame game,” adding that he wanted was for those concerned to realize the mistakes that have been done, and so that the COWD would never commit the same mistakes again.
“I am not blaming the people now. I am blaming the past. Napasagdan kana, and we ought to have learned the lessons from the past,” he said.
He said the city needs a stable and reliable water supply if it wants to be more competitive and attractive to investors.
“You can never dream of becoming a very competitive city kung ang imong water supply is inadequate and poor, and worst, inefficient,” Moreno said. (with reports from cio)