Sanchez: Bridges

WAY back in 2006, majority of the Visayan governors and several Cabinet members under the Macapagal-Arroyo administration had proposed the Trans-Visayan Friendship Bridges linking the islands of Bohol, Mactan, Cebu, Leyte, Negros, Guimaras, and Panay.

It is now the year 2018, or 12 years after this talk. Will we see the walk after the never-ending talk of linking at least Panay-Negros Island?
We certainly hope so. National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Director-General Ernesto Pernia promised the Negros-Panay Bridge is expected to break ground in 2019.

Pernia said the feasibility study is underway. “When the project is conceived, the first thing that should be done is a feasibility study, whether worthwhile and if the economic feasibility is promising.”

He said the feasibility study is “almost going to be complete.” The study, which started last year, is expected to be completed by June this year.

It’s not yet a done deal though. The feasibility study will be evaluated and submitted to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which is in-charge of the bridges. “If DPWH finds it promising and likely to hurdle the requirements of economic rate of return, then it goes to Neda for technical evaluation,” Pernia said.

Pernia said the funding will be sourced from the Official Development Assistance not just from China but from other countries such as Japan, Korea, China, or from the World Bank. He said the cost will be determined after the feasibility study is concluded.

The Neda chief pointed out that inter-island connectivity will make the movement of goods and people faster. “The cost of transferring people and goods will be lowered, which means goods and people can move faster at a lower cost. More things can be done at a lower time,” he said.

Despite current Duterte’s mantra of build, build, build, Pernia said the Negros-Panay bridge scaled back from the original vision of the Visayan governors.

Still it’s a good start. Duterte is looking to decongest Manila and disperse the development in Visayas and Mindanao. The bridge is seen to boost the economy of the provinces in Western Visayas and neighboring local government units, said Pernia.

Said the Foreign Policy website, more austerity won’t save the global economy. Building infrastructure just might.

It added, “Without growth, it will be very painful and difficult for advanced economies to increase employment and significantly reduce their debt burden.” The site proposed that policymakers, entrepreneurs, and investors should also promote and facilitate infrastructure investments in developing countries where opportunities for such investments abound.

These public investments, according to FP, is not charity. Infrastructure investments in developing countries increase demand for capital goods, such as the turbines or excavators that are often produced in the United States and Europe. It’s a win-win situation for all.

(bqsanc@yahoo.com)
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