QUEZON CITY -- National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Director-General Ernesto Pernia said the Negros-Panay Bridge is expected to break ground in 2019.
Pernia, in an interview with SunStar Bacolod at the sidelines of the University of the Philippines Science Journalism Awards night at UP Diliman on February 17, 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.
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.
After that, 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.
He said the project will break ground in 2019, adding it is possible the bridge construction will be finished before the term of President Rodrigo Duterte ends in 2022.
Those bridges are not that long, he added.
Pernia said the funding will be sourced from the Official Development Assistance from other countries like Japan, Korea, China, or from the World Bank.
He said the cost will be determined after the feasibility study is concluded.
Effect on shipping sector
Pernia admitted that passenger traffic in inter-island shipping will go down once the Negros-Panay bridge will be completed.
However, cargo shipping will continue, he said.
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.
Pernia said the Negros-Panay bridge remains a priority as it is one of the flagship projects of the administration.
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.