ON October 27, 2022, the Samal Island-Davao City Connector (SIDC) Bridge Project, commonly known as the Davao-Samal Bridge, finally had its groundbreaking after decades of being rumored that it will be constructed.
According to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the SIDC has a project cost of P23.039 billion. The agency said 90 percent of the funding will come from the Official Development Assistance (ODA) from the Chinese government.
The bridge will have a total length of 3.98 kilometers including Davao ramps and at grade road and roundabout in Samal. It will have a width of 24 meters and a vertical navigational clearance of up to 47 meters. The bridge crossing over Pakiputan Strait will also be supported by two pylons with a height of 73 meters.
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. led the groundbreaking and the burying of the time capsule together Vice President Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio, Davao City Mayor Sebastian Duterte, Island Garden City of Samal Mayor Al David Uy, and DPWH Secretary Manuel Bonoan. Also present was Chinese Ambassador Huang Xillian.
"Once completed, this bridge will help us develop the economic potential of Davao City and the Island Garden City of Samal, as well as enhance its residents’ access to employment, education, and other services," Marcos said in his message on October 27.
He added, "In 2027, this bridge will surely ease the convenience of travel and transport, bringing forth gainful opportunities for many of our people by providing a link between relatively far-flung areas and economic centers, thereby we ensure smoother mobility of people and of goods."
While the occasion is something to be celebrated, it also begs the question, what will happen now to the concerns of those affected by the bridge project?
Though only a few families whose properties will be affected, these families have raised a valid concern -- the damage the construction of the bridge could cause to the reef.
The call was also echoed by the Save Samal Reefs Alliance (SSRA), a network of various galls calling for the protection of the Paradise Reef.
The families and the organizations called for the realignment of the bridge to an area that could lessen the environmental impacts of the bridge. Those who opposed the current alignment of the bridge included the Lucas-Rodriguez family, Dominic & Sons Realty and Development Corp. (DSRDC), and the SSRA.
However, with the groundbreaking, we can say "Dayon na gyud (it is happening)." It seems like the calls to protect the reefs have fallen on deaf ears. Once destroyed, it will take decades for these reefs to recover. The reef that brought tourists to Samalenos, the reef that gave livelihood to the people along the coasts, the reef that is a source of food for many.
We just hope that the government will also be committed to restoring the environment just as how it was committed to pushing through with the construction of the bridge.
The groundbreaking of the bridge is a welcome development. But at the same time, what would be of the Pakiputan Strait if construction begins?