THE construction of the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Bridge is scheduled to commence before Pres. Rodrigo Duterte steps down, according to the National Economic and Development (NEDA-6).
The bridge project is among the priority infrastructures under the Build, Build, Build Program of the Duterte administration with an estimated budget of P27.156 million.
NEDA-6 Regional Director Ro-Ann Bacal said the Chinese proponents interested in the project are now coming up with a pre-feasibility study.
It will then be followed by the detailed engineering study and the procurement process.
Bacal said construction might start early 2020.
“We are looking at having the pre-feasibility study finished by 2017. Then we will have one year for the detailed engineering and another year which is in 2019 for the procurement. Then probably it might start at the earliest in 2020,” she said.
Bacal said the pre-feasibility study will be the main reference of the minutes of discussion between the government of the Philippines and the government of China in identifying the next steps.
The detailed engineering will include technical people who will come over to look into the underwater ecology, geographic characteristics, and different environment, among others.
“They will be bringing in their drones to look at how the roads would be leading to the bridges. After the detailed engineering will be possible efforts towards procurement. And then after the procurement will be the project start,” she said.
Bacal said the project may still take a while because of the numerous technical studies.
A 2-kilometer bridge will link Iloilo to Guimaras while another 18 to 20-km bridge will span Guimaras and Negros.
Bacal said they are pushing for the first phase to cover the Iloilo-Guimaras bridge as it is the shortest component.
Meanwhile, Bacal said that when the Chinese came in, other proponents who also took interest in the project have yet to provide updates.
Earlier, a group of Koreans also offered to conduct a feasibility study for the interisland bridge.
“The reason why the Chinese is here is because of the results of the travel of President Duterte to Beijing. And because of the good relationship that has evolved after that. The other bilateral partners in official development assistance (ODA) were there before. When they learned about the Chinese I was informed by the Department of Public Works and Highways that we have yet to hear from others who are interested,” she said.
Bacal said there is no final arrangement yet on the funding source of the project.