DAVAO

Davao-Samal bridge to push through despite pandemic

PUBLIC Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar confirmed that the long-awaited Samal Island-Davao City Connector (SIDC) Project, or more commonly known as Davao-Samal Bridge, will still push through with its implementation despite the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Villar bared this when asked by Davao reporters during a Malacañang virtual press briefing on Tuesday, August 11, on whether the project implementation will still commence in 2021.

The official said they targeted to finish the bidding of the project in October and November this year.

"Our format of this project is the design and build. They will make the final design. However, we can also expect some design adjustments but more or less the bridge alignment has already been set," Villar said.

Villar also said that by December, the P23.04-billion Davao-Samal Bridge project's loan agreement will also be completed.

When asked if the Covid-19 had caused a slight delay in the implementation's timeline, he did not have a clear answer but he said he is hoping that they would be able to start with its construction, which he said "will take several years to complete."

"But we're happy that, sa ngayon (as of now), we're on an advantage stage. And by this year, magkakaroon na ng (there will be a) bidding," he said.

Earlier this month, Secretary Vince Dizon, presidential adviser on Flagship Programs and Projects, said in a Malacañang press briefing in Davao City that the multi-billion SIDC and Phase 1 of the Mindanao Railway Project would still push through despite the pandemic.

Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) Executive Director Romeo Montenegro also said that key priority infra projects in Mindanao are pushing through amid government efforts to fight Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the contract negotiation for the preparation of the bridge's Detailed Engineering Design (DED) has just been finished.

Montenegro added the start of the DED preparation is tentatively set in July 2020.

The DED and the feasibility study of the bridge are funded by the Asian Development Bank through the Infrastructure Preparation and Innovation Facility.

"The Davao-Samal Bridge is among the priority projects under the Build, Build, Build Program proposed by DPWH for funding in CY 2021," Montenegro said.

Neda-Investment Coordination Committee (ICC), in November 2019, endorsed the Davao-Samal Bridge to the Neda Board.

The bridge, which will be sourced from Official Development Assistance (ODA) funds, aims to provide a permanent road linkage between Davao City and the Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) that would reduce travel time and reliability constraints currently experienced with ferry services.

The bridge project was supposed to break ground in July this year but was canceled due to the pandemic.

DPWH-Davao Region spokesperson Dean Ortiz, when asked by SunStar Davao for further details on the project during the One Davao on Covid-19 virtual presser, said their office cannot give any information as the Davao-Samal Bridge is under the supervision of the DPWH central office.

But still, Ortiz said they welcome the development of the project.


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