With the instruction of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark A. Villar, a coordination meeting was held recently to push through with the implementation of a 3.98-kilometer bridge project that will connect the Island Garden City of Samal (IGaCoS) to Davao City.
“DPWH officials are in talks with the stakeholders to guarantee that we are addressing environmental concerns and doubts of the project before we begin design and construction activities targeted by January 2021,” said Secretary Villar.
The meetings in Samal Island and Davao City were spearheaded by DPWH Undersecretary for Unified Project Management Office (UPMO) Operations Emil K. Sadain attended by DPWH UPMO Roads Management Cluster II (UPMO-RMC 2) Director Sharif Madsmo H. Hasim, Davao del Norte Governor Edwin I. Jubahib, Island Garden City of Samal Mayor Al David T. Uy and other stakeholders of the project dubbed Samal Island to Davao City Connector (SIDC).
The SIDC which is included in the “Build, Build, Build” Program is proposed as a four-lane bridge in southern corridor to connect Samal Circumferential Road in Barangay Limao, IGaCoS to Davao City beween R. Castillo-Daang Maharlika Junction.
The proposed bridge over Pakiputan Strait will provide a resilient and reliable transportation link between Metro Davao and IGaCoS, enhancing internal mobility and external linkage to support the growth potential of Davao Region as envision by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte.
Currently, locals and tourists can get to IGaCOs via scheduled 20 to 45-minute ferry/boat ride from Davao City.
According to Undersecretary Sadain, while right of way acquisition for the project may still pose a major challenge in the course of implementation of this iconic bridge, however, continuous negotiation is being carried out with all affected stakeholders and we are hoping to have an agreement very soon.
In the end, people may openly understand the value of socio economic development that this project could bring over the cost of land affected. Government must always understand and respect the dynamic process of land acquisition and should employ patience and cultural/ancestral sensitivity in carrying out this process, said Undersecretary Sadain.
In May 2020, the City Environment & Natural Resources Office (CENRO) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Region 11 has already issues a certification citing that the SIDC project site is not within the National Integrated Protected Area System (NIPAS).
A 20-day Substantive Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) Review for the issuance of Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) is also ongoing, with a Public Hearing scheduled on September 28, 2020.
The project’s Feasibility Study for the P23.04 Billion bridge was already completed in 2019 with the design and build bridge project to be funded by China Loan Financing Facility under China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA).