Davao-Samal Bridge project still awaiting loan approval from China

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 16 June) – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) cannot start the construction of the multi-billion 3.98-kilometer Davao City-Samal Island Bridge without the loan agreement from China, Public Works and Highways Undersecretary Emil K. Sadain said.

Ferry ride to Samal Island. MindaNews file photo

Reacting to Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS) Mayor Al David Uy, the DPWH executive explained in a phone interview Tuesday that the “ball is now in the hands” of the Department of Finance (DOF) to close the loan agreement with the Chinese government.

In an interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) last Monday, Uy criticized DPWH over the turtle-paced development of the bridge project.

On January 14, 2021, the DPWH and China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) signed the design and build contract agreement after the Chinese contractor won the bidding and was subsequently issued with the notice of award on December 14, 2020.

Sadain said the signed contract agreement was then submitted to DOF last January 15 to start the loan negotiation for P19.321 billion to finance 100% of the contract with the Chinese contractor.

However, the DOF submitted on April 26 an updated loan application reflecting the revised financing ratio of 90% loan and 10% local fund to China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) and Export-Import Bank of China (China Eximbank).

According to Sadain, the loan agreement is expected to be finalized between the two countries by the third quarter of this year.

The frustrated Uy said that he wanted to know the plan of the DPWH for the Davao City-Samal bridge project and its real status if it would still be pushed, saying he almost died of and lost his mother to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) without seeing any progress on the project.

Uy apologized to the DPWH in another interview last Tuesday after Sadain explained to him that the loan negotiation with China has just started and that the agency could not commence without the funding source.

He added that Sadain will meet with him in Samal to provide update on the project.

According to DPWH, the project will “provide a resilient and reliable transportation link between Metro Davao & Samal Island, enhancing internal mobility and external linkage to support the growth potential of Davao region.”

It added that it would also provide ease of access to tourism activities in IGACOS, enhance community access to employment, education and other social services and alternative route during emergency situations and disasters.

The construction of a toll-free four-lane bridge – with two lanes each direction – can serve around 25,000 vehicles a day between Davao City and IGACOS crossing over Pakiputan Strait, according to DPWH. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)