DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 23 June) – The construction of the Davao-Samal Bridge and the development it is expected to bring about won’t lead to environmental degradation, Mayor Al David Uy of the Island Garden City of Samal said Thursday.
Last June 13, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian exchanged with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III the signed Framework Agreement and Loan Agreement between the Philippines and China for a loan grant worth $350 million or P18.67 billion for the bridge project.
The entire project will cost P19.321-billion, mostly financed by the Chinese loan.
Uy added he is hopeful the bridge project will usher in development for the island but vowed that the local government will do all it can to balance development and environmental protection.
“If there is development, it may sacrifice the environment. But we will strive to keep the balance between progress and environmental protection,” he said during an interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Thursday.
The mayor said the dream of the local governments of Samal and Davao City will finally come to fruition amid the efforts of the outgoing administration to get the long-awaited multi-billion peso project started.
The mayor said representatives from the DPWH and state-owned China Road and Bridge Corporation visited the island on Wednesday to brief the affected landowners in Barangay Limao on the project.
Before the completion of the bridge the local government will work on finishing all “support infrastructures,” including internet connectivity, sewerage system, bulk water, energy sufficiency, and road infrastructure, he said.
“We are happy that the circumferential road will be transferred to the national government. Starting the middle of July, the P20 road maintenance fee that we are paying when we enter the island will be removed because the repair of the circumferential road will be transferred to the national government,” he added.
The circumferential road, a project that was started during the Aquino III administration, seeks to boost tourism in Samal, which is being positioned as a primary beach destination in the country.
According to the DPWH, the bridge project will connect Samal Circumferential Road in Barangay Limao, Samal to Davao City between R. Castillo and Daang Maharlika Junction.
DPWH Undersecretary Emil K. Sadain said the groundbreaking has been scheduled for next month and the construction will start this year.
He added that the project will be completed in 60 months or five years. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)