By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have finalized the detailed design of the P24-billion road networks that will be implemented in Mindanao’s conflict-affected areas, particularly the Bangsamoro region.
DPWH Undersecretary Emil Sadain and Masahiro Ueki, senior director of JICA’s Office for Loan Project Technical Examination-Infrastructure Engineering Department, concluded their series of conferences with the signing on Dec. 4 of the minutes of meetings on the detailed design for vital road projects for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
The detailed design study covers, among others, the 13.9-kilometer Matanog-Barira-Alamada-Libungan Road and the 62.6 kilometers Tapian-Lebak Coastal Road linking BARMM to other provinces in Mindanao.
The meeting paves the way for the submission by the JICA Study Team on April 2020 of an indicative cost for the civil work of the two major road networks, including the identification of potential sites for construction of farm-to-market and tourist destination roads to develop agriculture and tourism in BARMM, Sadain said.
Sadain has been designated by DPWH Secretary Mark Villar to manage the implementation of various infrastructure projects in BARMM. When he was assistant secretary, he once headed on concurrent capacity the DPWH regional office of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and straightened out several glitches in the region’s planning and implementation of infrastructure projects.
Sadain said the JICA assistance in building the BARMM’s road system will “foster economic activity, ensure smooth commodity flow, and improve the region’s accessibility.”
He said JICA is also assisting the reconstruction and development plan for Greater Marawi under a P970 million or ¥2 billion grant for the 18.97-kilometer Trans-central road network covering 13 road sections in the war-torn city.
The Marawi Trans-central Roads (stage 2) covering 21 kilometers and the 19.8-kilometer city Ring Road are part of the P14-billion JICA loan signed on June 18, 2019 under the Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao (RNDP-CAAM), Sadain said.
He said the DPWH-JICA venture also includes the construction of new roads linking remote villages in Maguindanao to boost socio-economic activities and peace building in the province.
The agreed project design particularly covers the 35-kilometer Parang-Balabagan Road, seven-kilometer Parang East Diversion Road, and 16.8-kilometer Manuangan-Parang Road, Sadain said.