Funding for completion of P1.1-B GenSan road project assured

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/05 September) — The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) assured over the weekend the full release within the next two years of the remaining P700-million funding for the completion of the P1.1-billion city circumferential road project.
Secretary Lualhati Antonino, MinDA chairperson, said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) have already programmed the release of the required appropriation for the 30-kilometer project until 2013.
She said MinDa and the city government earlier presented the project to DBM and DPWH officials and “they understood the importance of the project (to the area) and the need to fast-track its completion.”
“(The DPWH) already resumed the project’s implementation and although it may not be ready yet by 2013, we were assured that the release of its budget will be completed by then,” she added.
Antonino said MinDA pushed for the inclusion of the project in the national government’s priority infrastructure investments in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao due to its potential economic benefits.
She said the circumferential road will mainly connect various agribusiness production areas in the city to various markets as well as provide better access and movement for products coming from other parts of the region.
Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Cotabato and Kidapawan.
The Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12, which is headed by City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio, had endorsed the circumferential road as among the region’s priority infrastructure projects.
The RDC 12 specifically sought for the prioritization of the project in terms of the DPWH’s allocation for 2012 during a meeting here in April with President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.
The road project, which was launched as a priority initiative during the Arroyo administration, did not move as planned due to lack of funding.
The road network starts from the diversion road along the General Santos-Davao highway in Barangay Katangawan and stretches to the Sinawal road along the General Santos-Isulan highway in Barangay Apopong and the airport road in Barangay Fatima.
Mayor Custodio said the completion of the project will mainly decongest traffic along the city’s major streets and provide a better linkage for the city’s peripheral areas.
A report from the DPWH Region 12 noted that the circumferential road is also expected to bring economic impact through easy facilitation of transporting of goods to and from the seaport, fishport and the city airport.
It will serve as road artery in transporting goods and passengers leading to Sarangani province, Davao del Sur and Davao City, it said.
DPWH regional officials noted that at least P658.363 million is still needed to complete the project, especially its remaining component roads, bridges and acquisition of the road right of way.
But in 2010, Custodio said the DPWH only allocated P40 million for the project in 2010 and P30 million for this year. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)