When it was opened in 1973, the San Juanico Bridge connecting the islands of Samar and Leyte in the Visayas was a wonder for Filipino motorists. It was a long bridge that went over a body of saltwater (granted, one of the narrowest straits in the world) to join two landmasses to facilitate land transportation. For the next few decades it has served cross-country motor traffic in the Philippines, while also being seen as a one-off project not replicable anywhere else. But tell that to the Duterte Administration, which is bouncing ideas for eight new bridges to connect the archipelago.
CNN Philippines reports that the national government is planning to put together around P269.19 billion worth of funding to build eight new bridges that would connect major Visayan Islands to one another and with both Luzon and Mindanao to their north and south. Undersecretary Bayani Agabin of the Department of Finance read the official announcement of the project prepared by Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Thursday, April 19, describing it as a significant chapter of President Rodrigo Duterte’s ongoing “Build, Build, Build” general infrastructure program. The bridges will be complimented by new roadways to be laid down throughout the Visayas.
Dominguez’ statement outlined the eight proposed inter-island bridges and where they would be erected. First is a bridge connecting Luzon to Samar Island across the San Bernardino Strait (18.2km); second is a bridge that would either run overhead or through an underwater tunnel across the Surigao Strait (20km) connecting Leyte Island to Mindanao; third is a 5.7km bridge connecting Panay Island to Guimaras; fourth is a series of inter-island linkages totaling 12.3km from Guimaras to Negros; fifth is a 1km bridge connecting Bohol to Lapinig Island; sixth is from Lapinig to Leyte (18km); seventh is a 5.5km link-bridge between Cebu and Negros; and finally a Cebu-Bohol link-bridge that spans 24.5km.
“These bridges will provide growth corridors and ensure that none of the major islands of the Visayas will be left behind in the country’s race to progress,” Dominguez noted in his statement. And seeing as construction will take a several years to finish, these projects will provide longtime employment to Filipinos from construction to engineering and related fields. The brave prediction is that these bridges could reduce national unemployment to 14 percent by 2022, while investments worth $170 million going into the project until that year will stimulate the economy.
Other than the bridge projects and connecting roadways, other major infrastructure projects for the “Build, Build, Build” program in the Visayan regions include one port construction and three airport improvements. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board has approved all these for implementation as soon as resources are ready.
Photo courtesy of conceptnewsportal.com