SAMPAGUITA TBM. The China Energy Engineering Corporation (CEEC) holds an open-day activity as the first hard-rock tunnel boring machine (TBM) begins tunneling operations for the Kaliwa Dam project in Teresa, Rizal on Dec. 7, 2022. With a diameter of 4.8 meters and length of 372 meters, the TBM has been named after the Philippines’ national flower sampaguita. (Photo courtesy of CEEC)

MANILA – The China Energy Engineering Group Ltd. (CEEC) has held an open-day activity as the first hard-rock shield tunnel boring machine (TBM) started the tunneling operation for the Kaliwa Dam project on Dec. 7.

The Kaliwa Dam is a significant infrastructure project under the cooperation framework between China and the Philippines. It is one of the flagship projects under Build, Build, Build program.

With a 21.9-kilometer-long diversion tunnel, the 73-meter-high dam is estimated to supply 600,000 tons of water every day to augment the water needs of Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

Nearly 40 guests, including staff members of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and several residents of Teresa town, Rizal province, where the outlet area of the project is located, have attended the activity.

In the presence of the guests and the Chinese and Filipino employees, the China-developed hard-rock TBM, named after the Philippines’ national flower “sampaguita”, started to excavate a conveyance tunnel of the project, which highlighted the open-day activity.

Compared with traditional equipment, the drilling equipment is the most advanced TBM imported from China.

“The dimension of the TBM cutter is 4.8 meters, the total length 372 meters and the total weight is about 1,000 tons. It is truly a steel dragon,” Zhang Jie, head of the diversion tunnel team of the dam, said in a news release on Tuesday.

Participants lauded the open-day activity with one guest saying, “choosing CEEC as the builder of the Kaliwa Dam is a wise and good decision as it deals with water shortage, improves water safety, and participates in ecological conservation.”

Earlier, MWSS administrator Leonor Cleofas said the project is pushing through after securing all the necessary permits to build the PHP12.2-billion Kaliwa Dam.

“It’s a go because we have already acquired all the permits. In fact, we have signed a memorandum of agreement with the indigenous peoples (IPs) of Rizal and Quezon. These are separate because they are separate ancestral domains,” Cleofas said. (PNA)