Davao-Samal bridge to cost P9B

HOLIDAYS’ DESTINATION. Tourists start to arrive in Samal Island, Davao del Norte. The island is the most popular tourist destination in Davao Region and in Mindanao during holidays. Mindanews file photo

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 21 Sept) – The 4.4-kilometer Davao City-Samal bridge project will cost around P9 billion, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) director for planning services Constante A. Llanes said.

Llanes said in an interview at the sidelines of the Davao Agri Trade Expo 2018 at the SMX Convention Center Davao Thursday that the bridge is one of the 16 short and long span-bridge projects under the flagship “Build, Build, Build” program of the Duterte administration to link the island provinces in Mindanao and Visayas to Luzon via land travel.

Preparation for the conduct of the full feasibility study and detailed engineering design for the Davao-Samal bridge along with five other major bridge projects in the county under the Infrastructure Preparation and Innovation Facility funded by the Asian Development Bank is ongoing, he said.

He said the ADB will pick up from the previous pre-feasibility study conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The ADB targets to complete the feasibility study by first quarter of 2019, which would tell “if the bridge would be economically feasible, and environmentally and socially acceptable,” among other considerations and funding scheme options.

He said they want to start constructing the bridge within the remaining period of the President’s term.

“We cannot firm up the timeline yet because we need to see first what would be the result of the feasibility study that would identify the alignment of the bridge. It’s one of the Build, Build, Build projects committed under the administration. We are following it up and fast-tracking the implementation,” he said.

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 have 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, environment-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)