by: Lanz Gabriel S. Jabla
With the completion of the intake weir, residents of Sitio Lubas are a step closer to enjoying their very own micro hydro power system. This renewable energy system is designed to provide electrical power of up to 18 megawatts to the community. Local laborers work tirelessly and with enthusiasm to keep the project on schedule.
“This is my first time to handle a micro-hydropower project, but I am very eager to contribute what I can and finish it in the best way possible,” says construction foreman, Tim Lawas. Even the women of Sitio Lubas are involved in the civil works. While walking through the muddy trail leading to the work site, one may occasionally meet women carrying construction materials. Some would even drag long bundles of reinforced steel bars. This is hard work but they do it with smiles on their faces. Indeed, the community is very excited to see this project completed and subsequently reap the benefits of renewable and sustainable energy. The off-grid village has seen an increase in activity since the start of the project; its residents preparing their homes to accommodate the improved lifestyle to be brought about by electricity.
Of course, construction projects do not come without their own risks, and the project has seen its fair share of near misses. The path for the headrace canal had to be carved into the side of a hill. Consequently, falling rocks have been an issue for the workers. Fortunately, there have been no serious injuries to date. Furthermore, since the project is located in a very rural area, dense foliage had to be cleared to make room for equipment and materials. Project Electrical Engineer, Tem Granada had an interesting encounter with the local wildlife during the initial stages of the project. He said that “Before actual construction could begin, surveys of the area had to be done. While trekking through the area, I happened to chance upon a huge snake just a few feet away. We both immediately froze as we stared each other down. Thankfully it slithered away as quickly as it appeared.”
The Yamog management is very much aware of these risks and hazards. Policies concerning Health, Safety and the Environment have been put into place and workers have been provided with proper personal protective equipment. Despite the challenges, the people of Sitio Lubas continue to do good work. “The workmanship of our people are of good quality, and they consistently demonstrate initiative and creativity in the face of adversity,” says operations engineer, Jun Eusebio.
The intake weir is just the first milestone out of ten set for the project. The next is the headrace canal which is expected to be completed by the end of August. The entire system is expected to be completed by the end of the year.