Cagayan River dredging on the way

Removal of sandbars to clear the constricted section of Cagayan River, known as the Magapit Narrows, will begin on February 2, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary, Roy A. Cimatu, announced today.

“This is the culmination of weeks of meticulous planning and detailed coordination to ensure that each of the dredging equipment is safely transported to the sandbar sites and that bamboos are grown at critical portions of the riverbank needing immediate measures to address stream bank erosion and instability,” Cimatu said.

According to the Secretary, the sandbar clearing and growing of bamboos “are inseperable twins” that they have adopted as a strategy to protect nearby agricultural lands and crops from damage during typhoons.

On top of the six amphibious dredgers of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), a total of 40 pieces of dredging equipment are expected to be deployed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which consists of dump trucks, bulldozers, tractors, and scoop loaders.

The launch will formally open the first phase of the dredging operations, which entails the removal of three priority sandbars along the Magapit Narrows covering a total of 235 hectares with a volume of seven million cubic meters.

A total of 19 sandbars have been identified by the DPWH but immediate dredging was recommended for the three sandbars, which significantly hinder the flow of flood water to the Aparri Delta draining to the Babuyan Channel.

The three sandbars have a total estimated volume of seven million cubic meters, covering 235 hectares.

These are located at Barangay Bangag in Lal-lo town covering 11.4 hectares with 334,305 cubic meters of sand; Casicallan Norte, Gattaran that covers 89 hectares with 2.7 million cubic meters of sand; and Dummun, Gattaran covering 174.70 hectares with 4.04 million cubic meters of sand.

Photo: Watermaster Dredgers in the Philippines