Urban planner’s suggestion? Smart tunnels, not flood walls to control metro inundation

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 26 2020 05:32 AM

MANILA - Architect and urban planner Felino "Jun" Palafox Jr. on Wednesday urged the government to build underground flood systems instead of putting up flood walls along riverbanks, saying "cold structures" would "uglify" the cities.

"Smart tunnels" are 3-layered structures that serve as spillways and could also be used as roads, Palafox said during a Senate hearing on flood control projects.

"Itong mga dikes will be virtually obtrusive. Hindi maganda tingnan kaya ang proposal ko po smart tunnels," said the urban planner, who helped develop cities, such as Dubai.

"They will uglify our cities. Imagine Manila Bay with high walls, Pasig River with high walls."

Such tunnels could be built for P2 billion, and could also be more useful as it could "even alleviate the traffic situation" in some areas, he said.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said it was planning to build a dam in Marikina City, flood walls along Pasig River, and another spillway in Parañaque City.

The 3 projects are expected to cost around P138 billion, according to data from the DPWH.

The DPWH's Parañaque spillway was based on Palafox's proposal in 1975.

"'Yung mga prinopose ko when I was 22 years old, ginagawa na ngayon. I'm 70. At least ginagawa na," he said.

(The things I proposed when I was 22 years old are being constructed today. I'm 70. At least they're doing it.)

"Hindi po kulang sa pagplaplano pero kulang sa implementation at continuity," he said.

(We do not lack planning; we lack implementation and continuity.)

The government should also build more open spaces in cities, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, Palafox said.

"Open spaces and parks, they are not just evacuation areas. They are the lungs of the city," he said.

"If we do nothing again after this pandemic, I think some of our cities will no longer be livable."

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