MinDA eyes better road network for Mindanao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/06 March) – The Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) central office in Manila will use as criteria for project identification the five development corridors that will strategically connect the key areas of production in Mindanao to industrial centers where seaports and airports are located, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) said.

“Before, the identification of areas was done based on population. Now, it is more strategic and rational,” Maria Vilma Belches, Development Management Office 4 and OIC for Plannineg and Research Decision told the weekly Habi at Kape in Abreeza Mall this week.

The development corridors, a strategy aimed at making Mindanao “become self-reliant and internally dependable,” has five clusters –  industrial trade, mariculture and trade, biodiveristy and eco-tourism, food basket, and food, agribusiness and logistics.

She said that there are 13 road projects under pre-feasibility studies enrolled under the Asian Development Bank-assisted Improving National Roads for Inclusive Growth in Mindanao (INRIGM) project, covering 500 kms in Region 9 or the Zamboanga region. The region comprises the three provinces Zamboanga provinces (del Norte, del Sur and Zibugay) and the cities of Zamboanga, and Isabela.

The INRIGM’s technical report said the Philippine government requested ADB to provide a project preparatory technical assistance to prepare the INRIGM project. This project supports the government’s agenda for Mindanao in the Philippines Development Plan 2011 to 2016.

The Aquino administration ends on June 30, 2016.

“We leave it to the prerogative of the next administration to determine the need for realignment of projects already identified as Mindanao priorities,” Romeo Montenegro, Director of MinDA Investment Promotions and Public Affairs told MindaNews Sunday.

“As far as MinDA is concerned, we are working hard on the mechanism to make planning and programming for public works projects rational, integrated, and inclusive, hence the joint programming with agencies. This is more than just making sure Mindanao projects are funded, and that national agencies concur on clear and strategic criteria for planning and programming in coordination with MinDA and the Mindanao stakeholders who push for strong business case that can withstand and transcend politics,” he said.

Belches said major outputs of the INRIGM project will include updating the Mindanao road network master plan, preparing the feasibility study and project design for a project suitable for ADB financing, Belches said.

“For the road network master plan, the consultants will consolidate plans and projects of responsible government agencies and update them for recent economic developments to update the overall roadmap for Mindanao’s road network, including the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” the report added.

The project will also involve feasibility study and project design which will cover engineering, economic, social impact, and safeguards activities.

According to the report, the technical assistance will cost $1.4 million.

Belches said it is necessary to update the master plan to attain synergy in the road projects of the local government units (LGUs) and national agencies.

“There has to be a mechanism for regional offices to discuss. As the regions construct roads, other regions will complement it,” she said.

Last Monday officials of DPWH-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and officials from the agency’s central office met in Manila to discuss how the two agencies will work together in improving the roads.

“The DPWH-ARMM plans to construct roads which the national office of the DPWH will continue until it will connect to other road networks,”  she said.

A feasibility study is also being done on the Davao-Cotabato road networks to prevent traffic congestion while another study is already in the pipeline for the Tawi-Tawi Circumferential road, according to Belches.

“It is important that we start early to prepare for the traffic, not when there’s already a traffic congestion,” Belches said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)