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By Gary Covington

Looking In

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

ARAW ng Dabaw weekend, not being a fiesta person, I took myself off up the Cabantian/Indangan road and, it being mostly uphill, a road I hadn't travelled in years. And I was amazed.

Amazed at what had been a pleasant country run metamorphosed into a ribbon development of shoulder to shoulder subdivisions and construction yards. All the big names are there beavering away - Alsons, Deca, Hidalgo, some anonymous behind fences. All have snapped up the prime roadside lots and are building high-end, middle income, low-cost, even 'villa' subdivisions - this last what looks like town houses chopped in half, why on earth not leave them together, call them semi-detached and sell cheaper?

Interspersed with all this building frenzy - and it is a frenzy, mostly of speculation, cheap agricultural land turned into lucrative cheek by jowl housing - are sand and gravel batching plants, cottage industry manufacturing culvert rings by the mile, mountains of hollow blocks and a giant yard turning out bolt 'em together pre-cast concrete wall slabs. The road mostly follows a ridgeline, there used to be decent views left and right of countryside and agriculture - farms, orchards, even flower nurseries blooming with rows of asters and margeurites. Not anymore. Rooftops is the theme today or vast areas cleared of vegetation and busy with roaring earthmovers and diggers. At around seven kilometers, left and right, there's a huge cleared area; one side a gigantic hole soon to be filled, presumably, with pre-cast boxes.


I wondered how this potentially enormous extra population was going to be sustained with water and power and how was it to be moved - seven or eight kilometers in city distance terms is a long road as any commuter driving from Sasa to downtown will tell you and usually through frustrated and gritted teeth. Saturday's editorial raised the same question - 'We have to consider the carrying capacity of our infrastructures, facilities, and services, but most importantly our land and its resources. 'And 'What Davao needs is a long-term development plan that considers a rampage of people, businesses, and structure arriving at rates that's higher than the national norm.'

I'm not qualified to comment on potable water supply to such an elevated development nor power but I can wonder on how all those folks are going to be moved - how they will commute back and forth to the city proper. The Cabantian/Indangan road is single width cement - passing ten-wheelers have to hang half a wheel onto the verge - and it's the only road. There isn't another one until you come to the coast. Nor is it designated a national highway; no way can it expand to the four or six lanes of the Diversion Road or the coast road and anyhow, judging by the way houses and subdivisions are bellying up to the existing concrete, it'll remain forever just the way it is; awful and inadequate with no sign of any mass public transport system in the offing.

Mags Maglana noted, also on Saturday, that Davao City is not part of any province. It doesn't have a governor, it's not run like a province and maybe that's the problem; a city the size of a province and yet with the governmental mindset (And maybe the financial resources) of a town - and I include the local departments of national agencies as well as the city council - otherwise how could such huge development such as that along the Cabantian/Indangan road be contemplated without corresponding development of the infrastructure?

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on April 01, 2014.


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