GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/12 Sept) – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has allocated some P40 million for the development of an alternate road network that would connect potential agribusiness production areas in three municipalities in South Cotabato province to various markets in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao.
Reynaldo Legaste, South Cotabato provincial agriculturist, said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala formally endorsed the proposed Tupi-Banga-T’boli road project’s immediate funding and implementation during a meeting here last week of the South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City (Socsksargen) Area Development Project (ADP) board.
The Socsksargen ADP board, which is chaired by Alcala, mainly oversees the implementation of key agri-infrastructure, food security projects and other vital development initiatives in Region 12.
“The board adopted the road project as a priority food security-related infrastructure for the province,” Legaste said.
The official said the planned road network will cover various prime agricultural production areas and communities in the upland portions of the municipalities of Tupi, Banga and T’boli in South Cotabato.
He said it will start from the junction of Barangay Cebuano along the national highway in Tupi town and will run through Barangay Kalkam, the Roxas mountain range, Barangay Lampari in Banga town and eventually in T’boli town.
The area hosts palay and corn farms and plantation areas of banana, pineapple, vegetables, fruits and other high-value crops.
Legaste said the road network will reduce the distance of the usual travel from Tupi to T’boli towns by 40 kilometers.
“It will facilitate easy access and make the movement of people and products from these areas faster,” he said.
When completed, Legaste said the alternate road will later help decongest traffic at portions of the national highway that passes through the city proper of Koronadal City, which is the capital city of South Cotabato province.
During the board meeting, which was also attended by local government officials and other stakeholders of Region 12, Legaste said Alcala assigned the project to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
He said the DA chief instructed local DPWH personnel to start the initial preparations for the project, which will include the rehabilitation of existing roads and the opening of new connecting routes in the area.
Legaste added that Alcala promised to personally check with the DPWH the progress of the project’s initial developments during another scheduled visit to the region later this month. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)