MANILA, Philippines - In anticipation of the New Year's Eve revelry, Makati City Mayor Romulo "Kid" Peña reminded the residents of three barangays (villages) in the city - Bangkal, Magallanes and Pio del Pilar - to observe the fireworks ban imposed in their areas after the 2010 gas leak at the West Tower condominium.
Under City Ordinance No. 2010-A-020, the sale, manufacture, storage, possession or use of all types of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices are prohibited within the "territorial jurisdiction" of the three barangays.
The city council explained that tests conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Center revealed that the vapours inside the West Tower Condominium in Brgy. Bangkal had "a high explosive limit."
In July 2010, oil leaked into the basement of the 22-story condominium, which was later traced to the holes of a nearby 117-kilometer pipeline run by the First Philippine Industrial Corp. (FPIC).
This pipeline extends from Batangas to Manila and supplies more than 50 per cent of the petroleum products for Pandacan, considered to be the largest oil depot in the country.
Due to the dangers posed by the pipeline, the Makati City government decided to shut down the condominium and ordered the evacuation of the residents.
This was also followed by the closure of the oil pipeline after residents of the West Tower Condominium filed complaints against the FPIC.
But just this June, the Supreme Court allowed the reopening of the pipeline subject to several conditions like test runs, leakage tests and onsite inspections.
Peña explained that most of the fuel leak had been pumped out but claimed that the remaining traces of the fumes could be quite dangerous for residents since these could be ignited by firecrackers.
"Since 2010, several remediation measures have been done by the First Philippine Industrial Corp. (FPIC) in collaboration with the city government and its consultant. However, the area has not been totally cleared of gas fumes, so we could not risk lifting the ban at this time," the mayor added.
Those who will be caught violating the ordinance will be fined P5,000 and could serve six months jail term.
Included in the prohibited firecrackers in the ban are bawang, baby rocket, El Diablo, small triangulo, pulling of strings, paper caps, watusi, Judah's belt, sky rocket (kwitis) and other products with similar explosive content.
Pyrotechnic devices like sparklers, luces, fountain and whistle are also prohibited, as per the ordinance.
Peña advised residents of the three barangays to refrain from lighting firecrackers and fireworks and instead join the city's New Year's Eve Countdown at the University of Makati.
The celebration dubbed as "Shout" aims to unite residents of the city in welcoming the New Year and marking a fresh start for Makati.
A 15-minute grand fireworks display is expected to be one of the highlights of the countdown, which will also be graced by performers like Bamboo, Kyle, KZ Tandingan and Ella Cruz.
In line with this, the city government announced on Tuesday that the stretch of JP Rizal Extension from Lawton Avenue to Buting will be closed to vehicular traffic from Dec. 31 at 2 p.m. to Jan. 1 at 2 a.m.
Motorists will be rerouted to Kalayaan Avenue going to C5 and Buting in East Rembo. Those who will come from Guadalupe-Edsa should turn right to Lawton Avenue, turn left to Kalayaan Avenue then right at C-5 Road to their destinations.
Motorists going to Edsa-Guadalupe are advised to take Kalayaan Avenue, right at Lawton Avenue then left to JP Rizal Extesntion to Guadalupe. SFM