GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/06 March) — President Benigno S. Aquino III assured on Wednesday the completion by next year of the long-delayed P1.13-billion circumferential road project here.
Speaking at a meeting with local government and community leaders at the city gymnasium here, the President said a significant portion of the 26.7-kilometer road project has been so far opened and the development works on its unfinished portions are being fast tracked by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
“Many of its phases are now complete and we’re expecting that it would be fully opened by (the end of) 2014,” he said
Aquino, who earlier made a brief stop at a portion of the project in Barangay Mabuhay here, said he was so far satisfied with the progress of the project’s ongoing implementation.
He pointed out that the DPWH has so far accumulated around P40 million in savings due to the reduced bid price offered by the project’s winning contractor.
In a briefing with the President at the project site, DPWH Undersecretary Romeo Momo said they have so far completed the opening and concreting of a total of 13.69 kilometers or about 40 percent of the road project.
He said the ongoing development works presently cover around 4.7 kilometers and they are preparing for the bidding in the coming weeks of an additional 2.2 kilometers of the project.
Of the five bridge projects within the circumferential road, Momo said two were already completing and they are working on the bidding for the third bridge.
‘We’re targeting the full release of the required funds before the end of the year to facilitate the project’s full completion by December 2014,” he said.
A project briefer released by DPWH cited that the total fund releases for the project has already reached P747.027 million since its construction started in 1998.
It said around P387.854 million is still needed for the full completion of the project, which was earlier endorsed by the Regional Development Council of Region 12 as among the region’s priority infrastructure initiatives.
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.
City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio said the completion and full opening of the city circumferential road will eventually usher in more opportunities for the area in terms of trade and investments.
She said the city government is currently drawing up a plan for the development of a multimillion “high-end” food terminal that would mainly cater to export products in an open area traversed by the road network.
“It will also decongest traffic in the city’s downtown area and help reduce the travel time as well as fuel consumption of travellers and traders passing through the city,” the mayor said.
She noted that earlier studies showed that local traders could save as much as P300 per trip in terms of fuel consumption and travel time value by using the circumferential road.
A report from the DPWH Region 12 noted that the circumferential road is also expected to bring economic impact through easy transport of goods to and from the seaport, fish port 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.
The Mindanao Development Authority had pushed for the inclusion of the project in the national government’s priority infrastructure investments in Region 12 due to its potential economic benefits.
It 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. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)