By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The provincial government of Negros Occidental is “thankful that the Korean government had taken over where China had left off,” Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said yesterday.
Last Friday, the Korean government extended financial support to the Philippines for the realization of the proposed bridge that will connect the islands of Panay, Guimaras and Negros in Western Visayas.
In a press release, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Acting Secretary Roger Mercado said the conduct of the detailed engineering design (DED) for the Panay-Guimaras-Negros (PGN) Bridge Project will be undertaken “soon.”
“The provincial government has always been in favor of the proposed Panay-Guimaras-Negros Bridge Project,” Lacson said.
Last Thursday, October 28, the minutes of discussion for the financial support on engineering services, including preliminary and DED and procurement assistance required prior to the construction of the bridge, was signed by DPWH Undersecretary for Unified Management Office Operations Emil Sadain and Country Director Jae-jeong Moon from Manila Representative Office of the Korea Export-Import (KEXIM) Bank.
Sadain said the Republic of Korea “committed official development assistance (ODA) loan to the country through the KEXIM Bank-Economic Development Cooperation Fund to finance the DED of this immense flagship bridge project.”
The loan will be formalized with the signing ceremony scheduled in December of this year.
The bridge project has two components: the 13-kilometer Panay-Guimaras section that will have a sea-crossing bridge length of 4.97 kilometers and the Guimaras-Negros section with a total length of 19.47 kilometers including sea-crossing bridge length of 13.11 kilometers.
The supplementary feasibility study report and engineering service provision for the project were approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board’s Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee in August 2021.
Lacson, meanwhile, said the Provincial Development Council has passed a resolution endorsing the town of Valladolid as the entry point of the PGN Bridge.
NEDA reported that the detailed engineering design will begin in October 2022, construction in 2025, and completion in 2030.
In a January 2, 2020 report, NEDA said the PGN Island Bridge Project was among the 12 projects recommended by the Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee for NEDA Board approval.
With a proposed cost of P189.53 billion, the project will be funded through ODA.
According to the NEDA report, the project involves the construction of a 32.47-kilometer, four-lane, two-sea-crossing bridges, including connecting roads and interchanges, that will connect the islands of Panay, Guimaras and Negros.
The project “intends to provide a safer, faster, and more convenient transportation linkage between Panay, Guimaras and Negros through a connected land passageway” and is “seen to improve the highway trunk networks thus, allowing the flow of people, goods and services between the three islands,” it added./DGB, WDJ