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Labuan - Neighborhood Development

Recommended Development Concept

                           Labuan –Neighborhood Development

Brief  Description


        Labuan is a coastal barangay 33 kilometers away from the city proper and one of the city’s biggest fish producers in the west because of its proximity to the Pilas Channel, one of the city’s three major fishing grounds. It is the second barangay to the border of Zamboanga del Norte next only to Limpapa. It has a total land area of 1,957.9553 hectares and a projected population of 8,482 in year 2005. Travel time from Labuan to the city proper is around 40 minutes.
          Of its total land area, approximately 60% of Labuan is agricultural, 10% commercial and 30% residential area. Its major agricultural product is copra with 70% of its total production, while other crops including fruits, root crops, corn, coffee and vegetables account for the 30% of the total production. As a coastal barangay, it has large flat land areas.  However, its steep slope areas abruptly rise up to 30% or 50%, a portion of which is within the ZAMBOECOZONE.

                Basic social services are evident in the area. These include a hospital, health center, police sub-station, barangay hall, public market and elementary and secondary schools--all located near the highway. The city government installed a Level II water system project several years back in this barangay, however, its operation at present is not regular. Various religious entities, other civic groups and some NGOs existing in the area also contribute to the development of this area.
                The barangay’s fishery sector, although thriving, remains in need of both financial and technical assistance from government to improve sustainable production. Every now and then, it still encounters the issue of illegal/dynamite fishing and poor fishing practices and equipment. Big commercial boats also invade the area of the municipal waters that greatly affect the catch of the local small fisher folks resulting to low income/poverty among them.

                Because of the large and long distance areas of steep slopes in Barangay Limpapa and the northern part of Labuan as well as the areas in Zamboanga del Norte, it took the national government years to open a road to connect the city to the first adjacent municipality of Sibuco, in Zamboanga del Norte. In fact, to this date, this newly opened highway is not at all convenient for people to travel much more to transport goods. Thus, Labuan is also the landing point for many people who travel by sea, through small-scale water transportation, to buy their commercial goods and textile products and to access other town-based services and facilities. These people do not only come from neighboring barangays within the city, but also from nearby municipalities of Zamboanga del Norte.

Proposed Spatial Development of Labuan

            The natural topography of Labuan forced developments thereat to follow the linear concept. Thus, developments in the area can be found on both sides of a single road, which is the highway. Still the same concept will have to be applied in developing this area as a tertiary growth center concentrating mostly in the provision of commercial goods and town-based services and facilities. The principal transport route will still be the highway but it can be of infinite length, depending upon its growth as an urban area. All services will be channeled along the highway, which will be its Commercial Zone. This commercial zone will be from the shore going towards east up to the highway and extending up to 200 meters from the eastern side of the highway. It will also start at Labuan River from the north going south which can extent down to Barangay Patalon if rapid development will occur. The local shops shall be located in this zone, if possible along the junctions.

                Clustering of other community facilities will be considered at regular intervals along its course. In fact, the barangay can maintain many of these facilities, particularly health and education, already established along the way at certain intervals. However, to improve their ambiance, a community park shall be established, adjacent especially to the hospital or the school, with trees and recreational facilities. After the commercial zone, would be the Residential Zone towards the inner part of the area and up to the point where the slopes will permit. This may have a gridiron pattern to enable to design interior streets for easy access to the highway and commercial areas.  A small botanical garden may be encouraged in the residential areas.

                Beyond the residential zone will be Agricultural Zone, but mostly planted with perennial fruit trees. Appropriate intercropping practices may also be allowed. However, if anyone would wish to venture and put up a mountain resort or hunting facilities in this area, this may be allowed subject, however, to certain laws and environmental impact studies. The construction of farm to market roads shall likewise be properly considered.

                The flat lands at the western side of the highway after Labuan River will be an Industrial Zone. This is where the market is located and where people from Sibuco and other parts of Zamboanga land or embark. Likewise, this is where the fisher folks dump their catch. However, life for people doing this daily routine here is very difficult since there is no existing wharf, even an improvised one, that can facilitate their movements and activities. Of course, an improvised one is not practical at all when facing the Sulu Sea. Thus, the residents here, especially the fisher folks and owners and operators of small boats for fishing and transportation, earnestly demand the construction of a strongly concreted mini wharf that can withstand the storms that visit the coastal areas.

                This mini wharf will be a major contributory factor to the development of this growth center, since the marine resources and the utilization of the sea-lanes are also major sources of income in the area. The barangay can also have additional income by handling the stevedoring business. The sea-lanes are likewise vital in maintaining access to many people in Sibuco and some parts of Zamboanga del Norte and for them to help this growth area support the services and facilities needed for growth. The highway going north will also have a direct route to its market in the western side of the highway and this will be a wider one, to accommodate large vehicles.   


Proposed Development Strategy

                In the Labuan Barangay Development Plan, 2005-2008,  the development of Barangay Labuan wants to focus on the following areas: income/livelihood and employment promotion; education and functional literacy; peace and order/public safety; health care and well being; food security and nutrition; water and environment protection, shelter/housing infrastructures and participation in governance. The barangay believes that the continuous support and cooperation of governmental and non-governmental organizations like PDC, UNNDP, BFAR-FARMC and SZOPAD, in their efforts to improve quality of life of the people and their economy, now being enjoyed by the barangay, can jump start its economic development in due time.

                The Neighborhood Development Strategy proposed to develop this tertiary growth center, involves a process that relies heavily on community organization and participation by the residents, property owners and businessmen who service the area. Citizen participation gets greater emphasis in developing the area, because of the need to represent accurately the community interests and to provide a vehicle for organizing and strengthening the political force of the community. These various groups therefore can already participate in the initial planning or in preparing the Development Plan for this growth center.

                The Neighborhood Development concept in this paper, however, is not exactly the same concept as applied in the foreign countries, wherein three or more neighborhood communities are being planned at one time, to sustain the entire area. However, a population threshold level is still a very crucial factor in the development of this area as a tertiary growth center, catering mostly town-based services and facilities. Thus, it must extend its “area of influence” within not only the adjacent barangays but also even the neighboring municipalities of Zamboanga del Norte, already with various settlement categories.
                Invigorating the area, however, to encourage its full participation in the city’s development efforts and create a more just society is necessary. But because of limited resources, there is a need to carefully identify and translate projects into investment proposals. If possible, choose projects with the most beneficial impacts and with “multiplier effects”. On the other hand, the physical, social and economic characteristics of neighborhood unit are usually more homogenous than the entire city and definitely its proposed development are of smaller physical scale and less complex. Therefore, it can focus on one particular project, in this case, the mini wharf. There can be as many possible options or schemes for the Barangay to possibly fund this project after its feasibility study. Among others, these can be through the use of government Funds, Build Operate Transfer (BOT) scheme, Joint Venture or Donation scheme.

                Non-government Organizations with better networks within the poor communities; may be more representative of the interests of the communities; and better motivated, may look for donors who find NGOs a useful way of targeting assistance to particular group such as the poor.

                The focus on one project on the other hand, does not necessarily mean that there can be no simultaneous implementation of other projects when possible.