Steel bridge in Agusan del Sur opens 12 years after materials arrived

LA PAZ, Agusan del Sur (MindaNews / 18 February) – The materials from France arrived 12 years ago yet, but it was only on Tuesday that a P20-million steel bridge in Barangay Panagangan of this town was inaugurated.

The P20-million French-funded Panagangan Bridge under the President’s Bridge Program is expected to last for 50 years or more. MindaNews photo by CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN

The bridge will now be accessible to farmers in Panagangan and four other villages, making it easy and convenient for their produce to be transported to the markets in the province.

Funded by the French government and using the same materials used on the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris, the bridge is a project of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) under the “Tulay ng Pangulo para sa Kaunlarang Pang Agraryo” or the President’s Bridge Program.

It is a double-lane modular steel bridge with a total length of 22.80 linear meters.

The Department of Public Works and Highways Unified Project Management Office-Bridge Management Cluster implemented the project, which has a lifespan of at least 50 years.

Leonides Villareal, DAR Caraga regional director said the bridge was among the more than 100 projects under the President’s Bridge Program left unattended since 2008, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to order the DAR secretary to pursue it after assuming office in 2016.

Villareal said the Philippine government shoulders 20 percent of the funding for the President Bridge Program projects throughout the country.

Jamil Amatonding Jr., Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer II said the Panagangan Bridge is among the five projects under the program in Agusan del Sur.

At least 2,177 agrarian reform beneficiaries in this town will benefit from the newly-built bridge while 8,084 other farmers in barangays Panagangan, Halapitan, Bataan, Langgasian and San Patricio can now use it in transporting their products to the markets, he said.

George Deloy, an agrarian reform beneficiary and village councilman in Panagangan, said the bridge will end the difficulties the farmers have experienced for many years in bringing their produce to the town center.

He said farmers in these five adjoining villages mostly grow bananas, corn, cacao and falcatta.

Lily Empleyo, barangay chairman of Panagangan said the old wooden bridges they built in the past were in the lower portion of the river and would be washed away during floods.

She said the new steel bridge is a realization of a long dream of the residents.

She added that even the Sta. Ines Melale Logging Company which has been operating in the neighboring villages for 58 years had never built such a bridge.

Municipal administrator Tirso Gomez said that since the newly-built bridge lies at the crossroads of the adjoining farming villages, it may now entice businesses to locate in Panagangan. (Chris V. Panganiban/MindaNews)