While adhering to quarantine advisories and health and safety measures, some of the ongoing infrastructure subprojects funded under the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP) in the Cordillera resumed their operation.
The government has recently allowed all public and private construction projects to resume in areas under quarantine as long as construction safety guidelines prescribed for the implementation of infrastructure projects during the COVID-19 health crisis will be complied.
In DA-PRDP-implemented subprojects, eligible workers were allowed to report on-site. However, construction works were difficult as material shortages grounded ongoing operations resulting to subproject suspensions.
Engr. Edwin Camhit, Rural Infrastructure Engineer (RIE) assigned in the province of Ifugao, reported that availability of construction materials, including cement and sand, was a major challenge to the resumption of operations, and workers also had a difficulty in hauling aggregates since it is on a schedule basis.
“Some of the laborers and operators are migrant workers and they cannot report back due to quarantine advisories issued by the local government”, he added.
The following are the subprojects and their respective physical accomplishment, where construction has resumed in a short period but are now partially suspended due to the aforesaid challenges: Improvement of Viewpoint-San Fernando FMR (21.66% as of March 15, 2020), Construction of Anaba-Ducligan-Banao FMR (17.77% as of April 15, 2020), and Junction-Alimit-Nattum FMR Improvement (27.36% as of March 15, 2020).
Further, the first segment of the Improvement of Besao-Nacawang and Tadian-Mabalite FMR in Mountain Province which has a physical accomplishment of 91.42 percent (as of March 15, 2020), resumed despite the scarcity of construction materials and the stringent quarantine advisories within the province.
“According to the Provincial Project Management and Implementing Unit (PPMIU) of Mountain Province, the contractor of the subproject will continue its operations on roadway excavation despite the lack of workforce and quarantine restrictions,” said Engr. Genesis Deloeg, RIE assigned in Mountain Province.
Due to limited mobility, Engr. Deloeg said that the PPMIU is continuously working on accomplishing the pending documents (variation order and billing documents) of the subproject.
Meanwhile, Danilo M. Agliam of the Regional Project Coordination Office – CAR (RPCO-CAR) Social and Environmental Safeguards (SES) unit head said that all subproject contractors are mandated to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHS) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
“Prior to the issuance of Notice to Proceed (NTP), contractors were required to submit the DOLE-approved Construction Health and Safety Plan (CHSP) which facilitates the overall compliance of the contractor to the OSHS,” he added.
With reference to the construction safety guidelines during the COVID-19 crisis, other contractors of DA-PRDP-funded infrastructure subprojects in the Cordillera provinces are having a difficulty in complying it.
Below are the construction safety guidelines set by the government for the implementation of infrastructure projects during the COVID-19 crisis:
Prior to Deployment:
Only persons from 21 to 59 years of age, without pre-existing health conditions, such as, but not limited to, immunodeficiency comorbidities, or other health risks, including any person who resides with the aforementioned; and who did not come into contact with someone with COVID-19 shall be allowed to be included in the workforce.
Construction personnel shall be required to undergo COVID-19 test, as may be prescribed by the Department of Health, and retested as the need arises. In this regard, consultation with medical doctors prior to the conduct of the COVID-19 test shall be made.
The head of the concerned implementing office shall issue construction quarantine pass to the individual qualified personnel of the concessionaires, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers, clearly stating the identification, designation, nature of work, validity, and destination. It is understood that the quarantine pass shall cover the transit of personnel.
The concessionaires, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers shall provide for their personnel/workers the necessary welfare facilities and amenities, such as employees’ quarters for board and lodging, ensuring compliance to social distancing, proper hygiene, etc.
Contractors shall ensure that their projects are in compliance with DOLE D.O. No. 13 series of 1998. Contractors shall provide their personnel and workers continuous supply of vitamins, particularly vitamin C, other over-the-counter medicines, quarantine facilities, and oxygen tanks for emergency purposes.
Contractors shall provide disinfection facilities in their respective project sites in compliance with pertinent DOH and IATF Guidelines, to be placed at strategic locations to ensure the safety and welfare of all personnel
Proper information dissemination regarding COVID-19 construction protocols on top of existing construction safety practices shall be conducted by safety officers to all personnel.
For government construction projects, personal records of all personnel necessary for contact tracing shall be submitted by the concessionaires, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers to the DPWH IO and shall be resubmitted and updated monthly, or as the need arises, During Deployment: Conduct an inventory of works for the construction sequencing to be followed and undertaken to maintain social distancing, Break times shall be conducted in a staggered manner.
Employees should be in their respective quarters for the entire duration of the project covered by the ECQ and GCQ, otherwise, “Prior to Deployment” procedures shall be conducted at every instance of re-entry; errands to be conducted outside the construction site premises shall be kept to a minimum; the number of personnel running errands shall be limited, properly disinfected, and closely monitored for symptoms within 14 days upon re-entry.
Field offices, employees’ quarters, and other common areas shall be regularly disinfected; concessionaires, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers shall provide in–house personnel: adequate food; safe/potable drinking water; disinfectants; and hand soaps; daily monitoring of health conditions of workers, personnel with symptoms relative to COVID-19 shall be quarantined for fourteen (14) days, and brought to the nearest DOH COVID-19 treatment facility, if necessary, Work activities shall be strictly monitored by the Safety Officer to ensure compliance to safety standards and quarantine protocols; for government construction projects, DPWH Engineers on-site shall ensure strict compliance to the wearing of additional personal protective equipment; cntractors of essential private construction projects under GCQ shall assign a safety officer to ensure the implementation of social distancing measures; for off-site employees, quarters and transport services will be provided and disinfected regularly, before and after use.
Sharing of construction and office equipment is discouraged. However, if necessary, the shared equipment must be disinfected in between transfers amongst personnel, All material and equipment delivery and disposal shall be conducted by a specific team of personnel on an isolated loading/unloading zone and shall be duly disinfected, as possible., Non-essential personnel will not be allowed to enter the construction site, employees’ quarters, and field offices, All personnel entering the site premises on a temporary basis shall be properly logged and checked for symptoms, Gatherings, Liquors, and/or merrymaking are strictly prohibited within the construction site premises, Clustered and staggered deployment of employees within the construction site shall be observed. Proper waste disposal shall be provided for infectious waste such as PPEs and other waste products coming from outside the construction premises
The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has further amended the guidelines to allow the resumption of works in priority projects that refer to food production, agriculture, fishery, fish port development, energy, housing, communication, water facilities, manufacturing and business process outsourcing as well as for construction personnel, sewerage projects, water service projects, and digital works.
According to Engr. Gaston B. Cael, RPCO-CAR I-BUILD component head, suspension of subprojects due to this pandemic would result to major delays in work accomplishment and disbursement. But the health and safety of every worker is still the primary concern as we face this health crisis.
“Implementation delays in this time of crisis are inevitable. Not only in terms of physical and financial progress of subprojects but also on the procurement processes since it is being steered by LGUs as the procuring entity. Nonetheless, we still hope for the smooth implementation of subprojects in this new normal status,” he added. By ELVY TAQUIO