Boracay bridge stirs debate among tourists, islanders
ILOILO CITY—The plan to put up a 1.9-kilometer bridge connecting Boracay Island and Caticlan on Aklan province’s mainland has stirred debate among Boracay residents and tourists long pushing for solutions to the island’s perennial problems.
The plan of San Miguel Corp. (SMC) to build the P4.6-billion bridge has been swamped with mostly negative reactions on social media.
“Preserve the nature and beauty of Boracay. Don’t do it please!” said Urs Scherzinger in a post on the Facebook page of the Kalibo International Airport.
“No! The traffic situation is (bad) enough!” said Anne-Laure Sacapaño.
International designer PJ Arañador said the bridge would do more harm than good.
“A bridge from Caticlan to Boracay is absolutely not needed for such a short romantic and experiential boat ride to tourists,” he said.
Arañador, a business owner who has been living on the island for more than 15 years, said one of the main selling points of Boracay is its being an island-resort that is accessible only through a short boat ride.
Several residents and tourists have also pointed out that instead of building a bridge, focus should be put on improving the boat transportation system, hospital and other health facilities, and other pressing concerns.
SMC president Ramon Ang earlier said building a bridge that would connect Caticlan to the 1,032-hectare Boracay Island would provide convenience to tourists and would help address congestion.
Ang said tourists can also find cheaper accommodations in Caticlan.
Incoming Malay Mayor Ciceron Cawaling is opposing the project, stressing that this would bring more people and vehicles on the island that is already suffering from traffic problems due to narrow roads and increasing number of vehicles.
But several community members, including longtime residents and business operators, have voiced support for the plan.
Those who support the plan believe a bridge would make it easier for workers of hotels and resorts to be relocated to the mainland, reducing the island’s population.
David Goldberg, a Boracay resident since the 1980s, said a bridge could help address the damage to Boracay’s beaches brought about by decades of transporting cargo and passengers using boats. He said this will also address pollution.
Lara Salaver, another Boracay resident and business owner, said she would be thankful to SMC if it will build a bridge because this would “extend” Boracay’s life, citing the long-running environmental and other problems faced by the island.
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