>AT least 72 houses along the Bulacao River in Cebu City will have to be demolished soon since they encroach the three-meter easement on both sides of the river, putting the lives of occupants at risk.
The Squatters Prevention and Encroachment Elimination Division (Speed) visited the riverbank in Barangays Bulacao and Inayawan yesterday and identified the illegal structures that need to be demolished.
Speed Chief Noel Artes said the houses don’t stand on the river, but portions of the 72 houses have encroached on the three-meter easement required by law.
“Unlike in some areas near the Mahiga Creek, the houses identified yesterday do not stand on the river. It’s just that a portion of the house hangs from the riverbank, so they will still have to be demolished,” Artes said yesterday.
He expects the number of houses due for demolition to increase when their inventory of illegal structures in Inayawan continues today.
On Thursday, Speed will give the homeowners a notice to vacate or tear down their houses on their own within 72 hours. If they refuse to do so, Artes said his personnel will have to demolish the illegal structures.
The houses will be demolished to make way for dredging activities in the city’s waterways to prevent flooding in the city. It is also meant to protect the occupants and prevent deaths or injuries during floods.
Last week, Speed also demolished the houses of 28 families living beside Mahiga Creek in Barangay Mabolo, which overflowed when heavy rains hit the cities of Mandaue and Cebu last month.
Artes said more houses will be torn down in Mabolo once their jackhammers are repaired.
The City Government will also remove all illegal structures along the Guadalupe River after they conduct an inventory of illegal structures there.
Artes said an inventory in 2000 identified some 300 houses for demolition, but he expects the number to have increased significantly over the years.
“I’m sure there will be more because that inventory was made in 2000 yet. The figures are already obsolete that’s why we have to inspect the site again,” he said in a phone interview.