Filipino vacationers might still remember how last year, an initiative spearheaded by the President closed the resort island of Boracay for the better part of 2018. This was to facilitate an extensive cleanup and rehabilitation operation for the chronically crowded tourist magnet. I reopened later that year to more controlled visitor numbers and patched-up locales, but the repairs and additions to the island are still ongoing to this day. One particular update to come in the future is a long bridge connecting Boracay to Aklan in the mainland. An awarding of “original proponent” could be done to the company that first brought up the bridge idea might take place soon.
The Philippine Star notes that it may only be a matter of time before San Miguel Corporation will be given “original proponent status” for the construction of a Boracay island connecting bridge, with the other end terminating in Malay, Aklan. This tidbit was shared by Secretary Mark Villar of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The bridge project, estimated to cost P5.48 billion, will be constructed by San Miguel Holdings Corp., the infrastructure arm of the SMC umbrella. It was they who first presented a complete Boracay bridge project proposal back in January.
“We’re still finalizing the OPS. We’re still processing,” remarked Villar in response to questions about the Boracay bridge proposal. While confident that the DPWH will not take long in granting “OPS” to San Miguel Corporation, the Secretary has no estimated timetable on how long the project will take on its next step to approval: evaluation by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). To this Villar can only say, “I can’t preempt them because they [NEDA] have their own processes.” And even once NEDA has passed San Miguel’s OPS it will then be open to challenge by other companies with their own Boracay bridge counterproposals.
Boracay Bridge, according to San Miguel Corporation’s proposal, will be connected to Malay, Aklan by means of a bridge spanning 1.2 kilometers in length. The bridge will be limited-access in that general vehicular traffic will not be allowed across it. It will however come with loading-unloading areas on both its terminal ends where commuters, goods and supplies for the island’s community and businesses, and their solid wastes, could be easily processed in and out of the resort destination much faster than through normal ferry trips.
Following its rehabilitation and reopening, Boracay Island only allows no more than 19,215 tourists on it at any given time, with a maximum per-day entry limit of 6,405 tourists. A DENR study last year has determined that, including Boracay residents, the island can only carry 55,575 people every day without overtaxing facilities and the ecosystem.
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News