Infra Teams Conduct Catch-up Plan for Subprojects
The I-BUILD component of DA-PRDP conducted an online coordination meeting which was attended by the NPCO, and the PSO’s and RPCO’s of the four clusters of the project. Aside from discussions on the findings and recommendations of the previously concluded 10th Implementation Support Mission, the infrastructure component of PRDP focused on their catch-up plan to meet their specific targets. Sub-project implementation throughout the four clusters came to a halt when local government units began implementing measures to contain the virus starting mid-March such as the imposition of travel bans, border restrictions and prohibition of mass gatherings. With the gradual loosening of these restrictions following the application of new protocols under the “new normal” starting last April, construction throughout the regions began to slowly pick up their pace.
Chief among the new protocols to be followed were the provisions under the Department of Public Works and Highways Department Order No. 39 which outlined measures to protect workers against COVID-19. Some of these measures include the provision of disinfection facilities by contractors, provision of additional protective equipment (PPE) such as face shields and masks, and the undertaking of health tests and consultations by doctors. While these present additional costs and effort on the part of the contractors and stakeholders, the health and safety of workers are nonetheless given utmost priority as work on infrastructure sub-projects continue amidst the ongoing health crisis.
Some of the salient points of the project’s catch-up plan for infrastructure sub-project implementation include the improvement of the organization of on-site work to meet with the requirements of social distancing; improvement on construction practices such as the use of equipment-based construction methodologies; increasing the number of available manpower, equipment and materials stockpile; arrangement for overtime work to increase daily output in conjunction with locally declared curfews; increased use of digital tools such as geotagging/videotagging; and adjustments to billing processes to improve cash flow.
Engr. Maria Fe Papelera Gabunales, I-BUILD head of PSO Mindanao admits that while COVID-19 presents challenges for their work, there are ways to overcome them. “While there is a need to fast track the implementation of our sub-projects, we should still prioritize the health and safety of our workers,” she said. “We need to be more strategic if we are to meet our targets while still complying with the measures set for us by the DPWH and DOLE.”
In Mindanao where community quarantine statuses vary not only from region to region but also between provinces in the same region, communication and the use of technology has become very important in keeping track of the progress of sub-project implementation. Engr. Gabunales said that while actual field visits are important and are accomplished where travel is permitted, in cases where this is not possible, regional counterparts in the RPCO’s take the lead. Teleconferencing and the expanded use of applied geotagging technologies such as photo and video tagging provide a way to coordinate site visits for inspection and troubleshooting. “The cooperation of the RPCO teams, PPMIU’s, and contractors are very crucial to accomplishing our goals during these challenging times,” Gabunales added.
The mid-term evaluation of PRDP by the World Bank team cited the achievements of the I-BUILD team of the Mindanao cluster where they led the other clusters in terms of percentage of approved rural infrastructure subprojects with 40% of total cost of approved subprojects (PhP11.38 billion out of PhP28.31 billion). As of May 2020, the Mindanao cluster was able to achieve a disbursement rate of 80% from the Original Loan or a total of PhP5.88 billion. By July 2020 Mindanao has already achieved a disbursement rate of 83% or a total of PhP6.12 billion. The cluster hopes to build on this momentum as they set their eyes on achieving a disbursement rate of 94% or a total of PhP6.8 billion by the end of 2020. (Joseph John Palarca | PSO Mindanao)