Anomalies Hound Overpriced Yolanda Bunkhouses

At least 203 bunkhouses are currently being built in different towns of Leyte and Eastern Samar for the victims of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).  The bunkhouses will serve as temporary shelter for families that were left homeless by the typhoon.

Some have been questioning the timeliness of the shelter as it would only be used as temporary quarters, given that it will be almost two months since the typhoon devastated the provinces.

International shelter group Camp Coordination and Camp Management has also raised concerns about the construction and materials used for the bunkhouses.  The CCCM assists the government in relief efforts and has said that the bunkhouses were “noncompliant in many respects with internationally recognizes standards and best practices”, according to report obtained by the Inquirer.

Among the concerns of CCCM is the cramped space that the families would live in.  Each room only measures 8.64 square meters and is only separated by thin plywood walls.  Field officers of the CCCM expressed their apprehension with local authorities saying that the set-up of the rooms is a pre-condition for lack of privacy and even sexual molestation of children who are left alone while their parents are at work.

There also seems to be a discrepancy in the costing of the houses.  Politicians and priests in the provinces of Leyte and Samar have expressed their worry as reports have reached them that one 24-room bunkhouse only costs Php200,000 ($4,490.40), way lower than the Department of Public Works and Highway’s budget of Php959,360 ($21,539.55).

The specifications of the bunkhouses as included in the DPWH individual program of work are not strictly followed in the different locations.

“There appears to be a number of contractors working at different sites.  Standards and facilities appear to be somewhat different between different locations.  It raises the question of whether contractors have different specifications for different sites, if they are using the same specifications, whether these are fully complied with in every location,” the CCCM report said.

For example, in Tacloban City, bunkhouses have specifications for amenities such as four toilets, two bathrooms and a common kitchen.  In Eastern Samar, some municipalities do not have these amenities for the bunkhouses.

Even the materials used are not those specified in the DPWH plan.  According to a municipal engineer who refused to be named, the private contractor did not follow the specification on roofing which was supposed to be .50 millimeters, instead, .30 or .40mm were used.  What was supposed to be a 6mm thick plywood wall was replaced with 3/16.  The ¾ size for plywood was also changed to a ½ size plyboard.

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