By: Francis Allan L. Angelo
THE construction of the proposed Iloilo-Guimaras-Negros Island bridges is likely to commence in the second quarter of 2021, according to the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH).
During the deliberation on the DPWH’s proposed 2020 budget on Monday, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar told the Senate Committee on Finance that the feasibility study for the proposed bridges is expected to be completed in October 2019.
“What is important is the feasibility study is completed. Once it is completed, we can proceed with the detailed engineering,” Villar said as quoted by a press statement from the office of Senator Franklin Drilon.
Drilon had questioned the DPWH for the delay in the construction of the inter-island bridge that will connect three major islands in Western Visayas.
Villar said the Proposed Iloilo-Guimaras-Negros Island Bridges Project remains to be part of the priority economic bridges by the Duterte administration despite the delay.
“This is already the fourth year of the Duterte administration. It was committed on the first year. We already lost 31 lives to a tragedy. I hope we do not wait for another 31 lives to be lost again before we start the construction of this very important bridge,” Drilon told DPWH officials.
The recent Iloilo-Guimaras sea mishap that killed 31 people bolstered clamor for the construction of the bridge.
Upon Drilon’s questioning, DPWH Undersecretary for Planning and PPP Maria Catalina E. Cabral said they would immediately submit the feasibility study to the National Economic Development Authority’s Investment Coordinating Council for approval. After which, the Department of Finance will consider the funding.
Drilon asked the DPWH for the timetable, urging the agency for the project’s speedy implementation.
The construction will start around the second quarter of 2021. The construction of Iloilo-Guimaras link will take up to two years, sometime in 2023, while its phase 2 that will link Guimaras to Negros will be completed by 2024, the DPWH committed to Drilon and the committee.
The Ilonggo senator earlier called on the national government to already proceed with the Iloilo-Guimaras-Negros Island bridges, saying that the safety of the people should outweigh its economic cost.
Earlier, San Miguel Corp. expressed interest to submit an unsolicited proposal to bankroll the project.