Bridge to link Dinagat and Surigao mulled

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 June) – A bridge to connect Dinagat Province and Surigao City is being planned by newly-elected Dinagat Rep. Arlene “Kaka” J. Bag-ao.

She has been soliciting advices from engineers and maritime experts whether such bridge is feasible, an so far she has been getting encouraging replies. “I was excited when I was told by some experts whom I talked to that it’s possible,” she said.

Bag-ao said she even spoke to Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio A. Abaya, who likewise replied that construction of the bridge is “pwedeng pwede” (very possible).

But she admitted that Abaya suggested an airport instead of a bridge, but she deemed the bridge more urgent.

She said her dream of having a bridge stemmed from her experience wherein she has to spend five hours sitting on a boat for the trip from her hometown in Loreto to Surigao City. “I said to myself, I swear, I will make a bridge. And now it turned out to be possible. Why not?” she said.

Bag-ao said people from Dinagat and Surigao are excited, too, every time she shares her dream of a bridge.

But while Bag-ao is thrilled over the prospect of a bridge, she acknowledged that of utmost priority will be the road network around the island.

Dinagat Island used to be part of Surigao del Norte until in 2006, when a law was enacted to separate the island into a province, making it the fifth province of Caraga Region.

Fernando Almeda Jr., former manager of the Philippine Ports Authority in Surigao City, praised Bag-ao’s idea but told her to consider other things as far building bridges is concerned.

He said the bridge must not cause navigational hindrance to big ships that traverse the Hinatuan Passage.

Sharing his experience as port manager in Samar and Leyte back then, Almeda said some ships would reroute because San Juanico Bridge’s vertical clearance was not high enough for the big ships.

He said to also consider a tunnel system like the ones used in other countries, Japan among them, or the ferry system.

Almeda said ferry system may be faster with the roll-on/roll-off (RORO) boats plying Nonoc Island to Surigao City through Hinatuan Passage, and the Dinagat to Nonoc Island trips via Gabuk Channel.

“If we put up a bridge in Gabuk Channel, it is much better because once we arrived in Nonoc by means of RORO, we can then drive all the way up to Dinagat or either way,” he said.

Surigao City councilor-elect Leonilo Aldonza said he supports Bag-ao’s plan to build a bridge, saying this would result to economic benefits in both provinces.

Second district provincial board member-elect Melva Garcia said she has been in politics for quite some time but she and other leaders never ever thought about the bridge to connect Dinagat and Surigao. She said she is optimistic about it.