Traffic congestion has, in the most unfavorable of circumstances, become the new norm in Metro Manila. Some would claim that this, unfortunately, is the cost of progress. Utilities rush to connect more areas to the grid, and the government works to rehabilitate drains and waterways, build train systems, and upgrade roads. These—along with inadequate public transportation and too many cars on the streets—aggravate the situation, creating a gridlock.
Maynilad’s projects are essential to improving water and wastewater services in the metro. While its roadworks can sometimes cause traffic congestion, the company cannot suspend its activities for the sake of easing the vehicular flow. It does, however, employ measures designed to reduce the negative impact of its activities on the motoring public.
Below are 10 frequently asked questions about Maynilad’s roadworks, and Maynilad’s responses:
1) Why do you have to keep digging up roads?
Maynilad does road excavation projects due to any of the following reasons: to lay new water lines; replace old pipelines; connect new households to the network; remove illegal connections (if underground); repair a leaking pipe; install appurtenances such as valves and in-line booster pumps; and lay sewer lines that will catch wastewater for treatment.
2) Why do your projects take so long?
A single pipe-laying project takes about 90 to 150 calendar days to complete, but the project timeline could be extended depending on stipulations indicated in the work permits issued by the concerned barangays, local government units, right-of-way of government agencies, and private entities such as telcos.
Oftentimes, Maynilad contractors are required to work only during non-peak hours and to temporarily restore the trenches by early morning, so as to make the roads passable during the daytime. While this slows down project completion, it is necessary to reduce the impact on traffic.
3) Do you do anything to lessen the impact of your activities on traffic flow?
Even before Maynilad implements a project that can affect traffic, it coordinates with national government organizations, including the Department of Public Works and Highways, Metro Manila Development Authority, and the local government units (LGUs) and barangays to ensure the alignment of its project timelines and to get support for traffic management. It also deploys its own traffic aides to facilitate the flow of traffic along its worksites.
4) Why do you keep replacing water pipes?
Maynilad inherited what was considered one of the oldest pipelines in Asia, as some portions of its network date back to the Spanish era. The company has been investing in the rehabilitation of its distribution system, replacing old and leaking pipes in phases so as to lessen the impact on traffic.
Since its re-privatization in 2007, Maynilad has replaced almost 2,000 kilometers of old and leaky pipelines, which covers about the same distance between Manila and Bangkok in Thailand. This distance is roughly 50% of its distribution network.
5) What causes pipe breakages?
Aging pipes give out from the strong water pressure, so these pipes have to be replaced. Sometimes, contractors of other utilities accidentally hit Maynilad’s water pipelines while doing their own road excavations.
6) After laying pipes, why do you leave the roads looking worse than before you started digging?
Maynilad is mandated to properly restore roads after excavation works. But permanent road restoration cannot commence until the newly installed pipes have been subjected to a Hydrostatic Pressure Leakage Test and Disinfection. Once the hydro-testing is successful, Maynilad workers return to the site to dig out the temporary asphalt and proceed with the permanent road restoration.
7) Why not restore the roads as soon as after the pipes have been laid?
After the pipes are laid, Maynilad still has to install other appurtenances such as service connection taps, fire hydrants, and valves, among others. Once completed, each segment of the newly laid pipeline (usually every 300 to 500 meters) will be subject to hydro-testing—i.e., water will be injected into the new pipe at 150 psi (pounds per square inch). This is to ensure that the new pipe network is resilient and has no leaks. It is only after the pipe segment passes the hydro-test that Maynilad does permanent road restoration. Roads are restored according to their original form.
8) Why do you sometimes lay pipes in the middle of major roads?
Most of the time, Maynilad lays new pipes along the side of the road to minimize traffic obstruction. However, the presence of other underground utilities on the roadside (e.g., fiber optic lines) compels Maynilad to realign the water pipes so that these run in the middle of the road. In such instances, Maynilad expedites completion of the roadwork so it does not obstruct the road longer than necessary.
9) How do you ensure the safety of your worksites?
Maynilad encloses its open trenches with board-ups and signages to serve as warning devices and to avoid accidents. It also deploys project inspectors to make sure that its contractors comply with Maynilad’s safety standards. Contractors who fail to comply are reprimanded, penalized, suspended, or even blacklisted.
10) How can we be assured of the quality of Maynilad road restorations?
Tests for field density and concrete compressive strength are carried out by DPWH-accredited laboratories to ensure the quality of restoration. Maynilad teams also inspect the work of its contractors prior to project acceptance.
In this video, Maynilad further explains the reasons behind its pipelaying projects.