GROUNDBREAKING for a P19-billion China-funded bridge that will connect Samal Island to Davao City is targeted by July, according to Chinese Consul General Li Lin.
“We are working hard in this direction. I’m expecting it to take place next month,” the Davao City-based envoy said in an interview on Tuesday.
“I think the embassy, consulate general, and Chinese companies would come together with the Philippine partners to start our groundbreaking at an early date,” he said.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez recently signed a $350-million loan agreement for the bridge, which is included in the outgoing Duterte administration’s priority infrastructure projects.
In January last year, the Department of Public Works and Highways signed a P19.32-billion contract with a Chinese firm for the design and construction of the bridge.
The 3.86-kilometer, four-lane bridge is seen to boost Samal’s tourism sector and overall economic development.
Samal Mayor Al David T. Uy, during his inauguration ceremony for a third term on June 16, vowed to set up environmental protection measures to address risks from an expected rapid pace of development with improved access provided by the bridge.
“Hopefully, we will balance economic development and environmental protection, especially when we have the bridge,” he said. “We have a lot of opportunities ahead of us, but with those opportunities come challenges, especially with the upcoming bridge that would really test Samal Island.”
Access to and from Samal has been through boats and roll-on, roll-off vessels.
Vice President-elect Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio, the outgoing mayor of Davao, said the bridge will also open economic opportunities for the city.
“Hopefully, in the next three to four years, we’ll see that bridge will greatly benefit the Island Garden City of Samal and open Davao City as well to those interested to visit our areas because it will be very convenient for them if there is a bridge,” she said in mixed English and Filipino in an interview with the media on Monday. — Maya M. Padillo