ILOILO Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. said proposals to construct the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Bridge and revive Panay Railways are good projects but are not easily achievable.
“Sin-o indi gusto sina? Pero kis-a ga-damgo kita but we are not looking at the possibility and feasibility of that project,” Defensor said.
(Who doesn’t want them? But sometimes we dream but we are not looking at the possibility and feasibility of that project.)
Defensor said complementary development should be in place in the three islands for the bridge project to become feasible.
“Who does not want to go to Guimaras without riding a pumpboat? Okay, we build a bridge going to the island. But what will we do upon arriving there? What industries will be built there? It might be a pie in the sky,” he added.
“Pie in the sky” is an idiom that refers to something that is pleasant to contemplate but is very unlikely to be realized.
Meanwhile, Defensor said that during the time of former president Fidel V. Ramos, the administration provided the Regional Development Council (RDC-6) with P5 million for the feasibility study on the railway project.
The study later indicated that reviving the rail system is not viable.
Defensor said it is unlikely to be viable at present considering the continued widening of highways from Iloilo to Capiz.
Aside from its multibillion peso cost, the governor said there is also a question of sustainability.
“The train servicing Iloilo to Roxas before carried cargo such as softdrinks, wine, sugar, and sugarcane. Ti subong pila man lang na ang masakay. Kag short run ni ang Iloilo. Indi parehas sa Manila nga layo and in other countries where you can reach neighboring states just by riding a train,” he said.
But the governor said he remains hopeful as everything still has to undergo further study.
“I hope they can find ways to make these projects viable,” he said.
The bridge proposal is among the 75 big tickets projects announced by the Duterte administration under the Build, Build, Build Program.
It has an estimated budget of P27.156 billion that will be implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
The railway project is not included in the list as there are some proposals to construct an elevated expressway instead.
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA-6) Regional Director Ro-Ann Bacal said they are still having consultations with local leaders and representatives in the Congress on the expressway proposal.
A 117-kilometer railway system is used to be operated by state-owned Panay Railway Inc. in 1907 to 1989.
Panay covers the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, and Negros.