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AFTER PEÑAFRANCIA FIESTA: Bongat thanks inter-agency task group, clean-up drive volunteers

By Jason B. Neola NAGA CITY --- After expressing his gratitude to more than 2,500 public and private personnel who composed the 2017 Peñafrancia Inter-Agency Task Group, Mayor John G. Bongat, in a separate occasion, also commended the volunteer groups who helped the city government salvage all the waste and litter left behind by about two million visitors, pilgrims and devotees that came to the city from various places of the country and abroad to pray and join in the grand 10-day Penafrancia fiesta celebration. In the send-off ceremony held Monday at the Metropolitan Naga Cathedral, Bongat thanked the task group that ensured the safe, orderly and peaceful conduct of the fiesta’s various civic-religious activities, with no major untoward incident reported. The task force is composed of personnel from the police and the Army, traffic enforcers, DPWH and fire and coast guard brigades, and other government offices providing frontline services and utilities, including emergency, health and risk reduction assistance for the convenience of both the visitors and the host city residents. In an interview, the city mayor also acknowledged the groups who worked with the Solid Waste Management Office (SWMO) in ridding the city streets of litter and garbage that have been estimated to have piled up at 110 tons per day, excluding the waste collected every day from residential and commercial establishments placed at 90 tons daily. “Their awareness on environmental care and the way they carried out their services are truly admirable considering that they are pursuing these things [of cleaning the streets] as volunteers, no remuneration involved,” the mayor said. The SWMO directs the delivery of garbage to the allowed space at Balatas dumpsite while it is in the final phase of closing its operation. The allowed space is 30 percent of the site’s total area. Bongat expressed deep gratitude to the volunteer-sweepers whose systematic approach in dealing with different kinds of litter and garbage carelessly strewn on the streets was truly admirable. Sweeping of dirt and wastes followed immediately after each event or activity held in the plaza and in the city’s major streets, such as the traslacion and other processions, concerts, and parades. Engr. Joel Martin, SWMO department head, admitted, however, that the approach does not work always when vehicular and human traffic is heavy and so congested, especially in downtown areas. “This is the reason why we have to do it [the sweeping and cleaning of streets] in the evening,” he says. The volunteers, numbering about 190 individuals, are from the Environment Watch Group (east and west sector), students from the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) and Camarines Sur National High School (CSNHS). Martin also thanked the Fieldworks construction firm for allowing the city government to employ its 20-tonner crane in opening and closing the mechanical floodgates along the Naga River in Barangay Sabang which allowed the SWMO to maintain the water elevation level of the river, especially during the fluvial procession in order to keep afloat the ‘pagoda’ or barge (vessel) of Ina for the riverine rites even during low tide. On Naga River’s siltation project, Martin said that the undertaking is being done in close coordination with DPWH which has employed amphibious excavator to take out the silt from the river bed. Martin said that the speed of excavation and hauling of mud and other deposits from the river takes about 6 cubic meters per hour. The work is expected to be completed by December 31, this year.

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