Mindanao Super Region projects being fast-tracked

Undersecretary Virgilio Leyretana, chair of the Mindanao Economic and Development Council (Medco), said various government line agencies are currently speeding up efforts in the monitoring and addressing of major bottlenecks in the implementation of the project.

"We need greater focus to fast-track the implementation of these high-impact projects," said Leyretana, who is also the deputy development champion for the Mindanao Super Region project.

Leyretana said the council has directed the implementing agencies under the Mindanao Super Region team to regularly check their timelines and ensure that implementation targets will be met.

In a press statement released Tuesday by Medco, at least 32 percent of various priority infrastructure projects under the Mindanao Super Region implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways are reportedly nearing completion as of November last year.

Medco said they expect the completion this year of the Dinagat Island road network project, which involves the improvement of a 15-kilometer road in Surigao del Norte.

The project, which began construction in October 2006, is reported 65.57 percent complete as of last November.

It said the projects that are slated for completion next year are the ongoing Zamboanga West Coast road project, Awang-Upi-Kalamansig-Lebak road project and Surigao-Davao Coastal road project.

So far, Medco said the improvement of the Zamboanga west coast road is currently 18.56 percent complete, way ahead of its schedule by at least three percent.

With a total length of 117.3 kilometers, the road connects the coastal municipalities of Sibuco, Sirawai, Siocon, Baliguian and Gutalac in Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga del Norte.

Medco said the Surigao-Davao Coastal road connecting the provinces of Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Davao Oriental is already 39.21 percent finished.

The P5.8-billion project, which is composed of five road sections — the Bacuag-Claver Provincial boundary, provincial boundary-Tandag-Marihatag, Marihatag-Barobo-Tagbina-Hinatuan, Bislig-Manay and Manay-Mati — is due for completion next year.

Meantime, Medco cited that the construction of the 87.6-kilometer Awang-Upi-Kalamansig-Lebak road in Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat is expected to begin soon following the deliberation of their bidding proposals last November.

The council also expects the completion later this year of the Super Region airport development projects such as the improvement of airport facilities and extension of runway for the Butuan, Cotabato, Dipolog, Ozamiz, Pagadian and Zamboanga airports.

Medco reported that the runway extension of the P306-million Butuan Airport Development Project is now also 52.54 percent complete.

"The project started October last year and will be completed in May as scheduled. Improvement of the airport's air navigation facilities as well as other runway rehabilitation works is currently at its mobilization stage," the report said.

For the P25-million Cotabato airport runway project, the accomplishment has reached 11.5 percent. A taxiway project at the airport will also commence soon.

Medco said the rehabilitation work for the Zamboanga airport, which includes the improvement of the existing terminal building and installation of a baggage conveyor system at the arrival area, will also kick off this month until May.

It added that the main civil works for the construction of Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental will commence early this year.

For power and transmission projects, Medco said the Department of Energy (DOE) reported that they expect the completion of the Abaga-Kirahon and Maramag-Bunawan 230 kV Backbone transmission projects, which are currently working for the acquisition of the right of way (ROWA) for the tower sites and stringing section, by 2009.

The DOE also reported that 91 percent or 9,140 barangays in Mindanao have been so far energized.

"To achieve full electrification in Mindanao by 2009, a total of 898 barangays are still to be provided with electricity," Medco said.

For the port projects, the construction of back-up area for the newly-constructed wharf of the Cagayan de Oro Port is now reportedly 85.15 percent complete while port expansion for the Davao Port is 72.10 percent complete.

The Mindanao Super Region is part of the Super Region strategy announced by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during her 2006 State of the Nation Address which aims to enhance the competitive advantage of regional groupings.

Under the Super Region strategy, Mindanao's strong potential to become the country's agribusiness center is being developed and harnessed through major infrastructure support. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)