CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña plans to renovate a city-owned condominium and turn it into a study center.

The condo building, which had housed 417 city scholars from the mountain barangays, was ordered closed in June last year for being dilapidated and unfit for occupancy.

“According to Engineer (Pericles) Dakay, you don’t have to destroy the building. There are certain remedial measures that can be made to save the structure of the building,” Osmena told reporters in his regular press conference yesterday.

“It started when I told him kung mahimo ba, atong i-demolish ang pila ka floor just to make it lighter. He said no, you can use the whole thing. What we have to study is the structural (integrity) and reinforce it. But we will make the first two floors into a study center,” the mayor added.

But Councilor Joy Augustus Young, who chairs the council committee on education and scholarships, recommended to only use the ground floor to ensure safety.

He said they will start renovation of the ground floor of the five-storey building by the end of the month.

“To be safe, ground floor lang ang atong gamiton. Problema nato ang aircon, because the ground floor is divided into rooms and we cannot destroy the rooms, kay usa ra ang haligi. So we have to put up air conditioning units in each room,” he told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview.

He said the ground floor of the condominium has 16 rooms that can accommodate at least 200 students. One room will be converted into a comfort room.

The five-storey structure was built in 1996 to provide homes to the qualified urban poor in the city but was later abandoned by the occupants due to its deteriorating condition.

In June, 2016, inspectors from the Office of the Building Official (OBO) found that the ceiling was severely damaged and the pipes leaked. The cisterns were also no longer functioning.

Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CCDRRMO) head Nagiel Bañacia said that the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) found a sinkhole in the dormitory’s hallway.

A sinkhole is a cavity in the ground caused by water erosion providing a route for surface water to disappear underground.

Marian Codilla, MGB-7 spokesperson, said the MGB Central Office conducted the survey on the Hilly Land Dormitory along N. Bacalso Avenue last year and sent some recommendations to the office of Mayor Osmeña.

She however admitted not having seen the recommendations of their Central Office as it was issued and sent directly to the city government.
It was the recommendation from the MGB-7 that finally prompted the facility’s immediate closure last year.

But the problem of the condominium is really the structure, Bañacia said.

Bañacia said that as far as he remembered, the recommendation of the MGB-7 found that it is only the upper floors that are hazardous.

“Ang ibabaw raman ang delikado. So ang ground floor pwede ra man magamit (It is only the upper floors that are dangerous to use. While the ground floor can be used),” Bañacia said.

But Mayor Osmeña said he trusts Engineer Pericles Dakay, whom he consulted about the structural integrity of the building.

“There are ways to remedy that. Don’t ask me how but Engineer Dakay is to me the most respected structural engineer. He says there is a way it can be resolved. Of course we’ll try, we’ll look at it. I know it will have to have the concurrence of all the inspectors, DPWH and the others,” the mayor said.

Meanwhile, Young said converting the condominium’s use into a study center would greatly augment the Rizal Library.

“I think the Rizal Library is not big enough kay naghuot pud sa mga libro. We have to be near where the students are. Kay its time consuming for some nga mo-travel pa from south or north district just to get to the Rizal Library,” he said.

The Rizal Library is now open 24/7.

He also said the city government is eyeing other city-owned buildings that could be made into study centers. | Cebu Daily News