Bridge seen to boost economic activities in Davao, Samal

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 April) – Building a bridge between this city and Samal Island will enhance economic activities in both areas, a business leader said in an interview Monday.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is planning to conduct a full feasibility study for the Davao City-Samal Bridge project.

More tourists arrive in the Island Garden City ofSamal in Davao del Norte from Davao City on Saturday, 08 April 2017. Tourist arrivals in Samal Island, a top destination for its white-sand beaches, is starting to build up ahead of the Holy Week. MINDANEWS FILE PHOTO

“For me, it’s really a very positive development once the Davao-Samal bridge is constructed,” Arturo Milan, Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. president said citing the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge that has made Cebu and Lapu-Lapu cities industrial and manufacturing zones.

Milan said having the bridge will not adversely affect the tourism industry in the island if the local government will be strict in enforcing laws.

He said he envisions more economic zones to be put up in the island and easier movement of goods once the bridge is built.

Transport between Davao City and Samal is currently being serviced by ferry boats.

National Economic Development Authority 11 director Maria Lourdes Lim earlier announced that a grant of P90 million from the Asian Development Bank has been set aside to conduct a full feasibility study on the Davao City-Samal Bridge.

Lim, also vice chairperson of the Regional Development Council (RDC) 11, said the study might be undertaken this year although the government has yet to decide on the group that will undertake it.

She said the DPWH is negotiating with Hong Kong-based consultants.

She said the RDC 11 requested for a budget from DPWH to fund the study but “it was picked up by DPWH as a grant from ADB.”

Lim added the consultants will pick up the previous pre-feasibility study conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and completed in 2016.

“We want to see initial construction stages happening probably late 2019 or early 2020,” she said.

She estimated the study to be finished in six to eight months.

A “Study on the Project for Construction of Davao-Samal Bridge” conducted by Katahira & Engineers International in 2016 said that “Samal and Davao City, between which there is Pakiputan Strait, are located close to each other.”

“Ferries and boats are the transportation means between Davao City and Samal Island and availability of which are restricted by the operation schedule as well as the weather thus, giving inconvenience to the lives of the people, especially those on the island,” it said.

It noted that the “waiting time for the ferry is too long at peak times because travelers to Samal Island has been rapidly increasing due to the upsurge development of the island because of the numerous beach resorts and high class residential areas.”

Citing JICA’s “The Study on the Davao Integrated Development Program (DIDP) Master Planning March 1999”, it said a bridge connecting the city and Samal was recommended because the island has a high potential for high-grade residential development, environmental friendly industrial estate, and cultural and financial centers under the BIMP-EAGA scheme as well as resort development due to its adjacency to the city.

It said the project is urgently needed for land transportation because of the high development potential of Samal Island, expectation of a rapid progress in development and security of about 100,000 residents and around 700,000 tourists.

“Considering the state that the number of tourists and travelers who use the ferries are remarkably increasing, economic loss generated by the waiting time for ferry is increasing year by year,” it added. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)