Malacañang exec: Kaliwa Dam project pushing through, tunneling machine arriving in May

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 4) — The controversial Kaliwa Dam project is pushing through and the tunneling equipment expected to speed up its construction is set to arrive this May.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles announced during his briefing in Malacañang on Thursday that the arrival of the tunnel boring machine is in line with the administration's goal to address water security in Metro Manila.

The Kaliwa Dam is designed to augment water supply from Angat Dam, which serves as the region's major source of potable water. It is slated for completion in 2025.

"We expect the arrival of the tunnel boring machine in May of 2021. So 'pag dumating 'yung tunnel boring machine, mas mapapabilis natin, mas makikita natin' yung mabilis na pag-usad ng project," he said.

[Translation: When the tunnel boring machine arrives in May of 2021, we can fast-track and see the quick progress of the project.]

"Of course, we understand that the target date of completion is 2025 but umaasa tayo dito because if this is successful and we complete it by 2025, malaki 'yung masu-supply nitong tubig sa Metro Manila," he added.

[Translation: Of course, we understand that the target date of completion is 2025 but we are keeping our hopes up in this because if this is successful and we complete it by 2025, it will provide sufficient water supply to Metro Manila.]

The tunnel boring equipment will be used by contractors to start digging and building an integrated reservoir bordering the Rizal and Quezon provinces.

The Kaliwa Dam project, which was signed through a loan deal between the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System and the Export-Import Bank of China in 2018, is expected to supply 600 million liters of water per day.

Critics have slammed its construction using Chinese funding and Chinese construction firms. The project has also been stalled by protests from environmental activists, locals, and indigenous communities.

The Bases Conversion and Development Authority previously said the Kaliwa Dam is part of the Duterte administration's 12 infrastructure projects in the pipeline aimed at improving the country's water supply.

READ: Kaliwa Dam still part of state's priority infrastructure projects