Given the urgency to start rebuilding roads affected by the earthquakes that hit the island’s southwest region, as well as building shelters, the Department of Economic Development and Commerce issued a pair of administrative orders through its Permit Management Office (OGPe) to expedite emergency government projects.
The OGPe issued Administrative Order (AO) 2020-01 to grant a waiver to the Department of Transportation and Public Works and its dependencies — the Highways and Transportation Authority, the Directorate of Public Works, the Federal Highways Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency — from obtaining environmental compliance certification from the Environmental Quality Board, an incidental permission to cut, transfer and plant trees, the Single Incidental Permit, or any other permit or authorization delegated to the OGPe that are required for construction purposes.
The waiver applies to cleaning, removing and disposing of debris; landslide correction; pavement rehabilitation; restoration of drainage systems; installation of temporary bridges; rehabilitation and/or restoration of temporary detours, and restoration or installation of security measures, among others.
The order will be in effect through the end of the emergency, which was not tied to a specific date.
Meanwhile, the OGPe signed Administrative Order 2020-02, responding to the request of the Bureau for Emergency and Disaster Management (NMEAD, for its initials in Spanish), to provide facilities where the basic needs of people who had to leave their homes and occupations can best be attended, said Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Manuel Laboy.
The Administrative Order establishes setting up five temporary shelters to house up to 1,500 people in each of the most-affected municipalities. They will be located in open areas without structures or minimal structures, due to the danger and threat of the earthquake on Jan. 7 and its ongoing aftershocks.
“The projects included typically entail building permits or a single incidental permit, but in the Administrative Order they are exempt from them, so they can speed up establishing these shelters to provide sinks and portable toilets, showers, kitchens, laundry services and temporary water tanks, among others,” he said.
The shelters will be built in Yauco, Guayanilla, Ponce, Peñuelas and Guánica. This Administrative Order will be in effect until April 30, he said.