DPWH targets 2021 as start of building bridges to connect West Visayas islands
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) hopes to start connecting the provinces of Iloilo and Guimaras and Negros Island by bridges starting in the second quarter of 2021, according to the DPWH’s highest ranking official.
At the Senate hearing on the DPWH’s 2020 budget on Monday, Sept. 23, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said the feasibility study on the project was expected to be completed in October.
With the feasibility study, Villar said “we can proceed with detailed engineering.”
The project, which would connect the three major islands of Western Visayas, is still priority of the Duterte administration despite a delay in its construction.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, however, said the project was crucial because it would provide a safer transport alternative to sea travel in the dangerous seas between Iloilo and Guimaras where 31 people died in a recent boat mishap.
“This is already the fourth year of the Duterte administration. It was committed in the first year. We already lost 31 lives to a tragedy,” Drilon said.
“I hope we do not wait for another 31 lives to be lost again before we start the construction of this very important bridge,” he added.
Public Works Undersecretary for Planning Maria Catalina Cabral said the DPWH would submit the feasibility study immediately to the National Economic Development Authority’s Investment Coordinating Council for approval. After this, the Department of Finance will look for funding for the project.
Villar said the construction of the Iloilo-Guimaras link will take up to two years and be finished in 2023, or well beyond the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The second phase, which would link Guimaras to Negros Island, would be finished in 2024, Villar said./TSB
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