After meeting with various stakeholders to address environmental doubts on the implementation of the 3.98-kilometer bridge project linking the Island Garden City of Samal (IGaCoS) to Davao City, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said it is hopeful that these concerns would be settled soon.
A meeting was held recently to push through with the implementation of the bridge project dubbed Samal Island to Davao City Connector (SIDC), which has been receiving push backs due to environmental concerns on the proposed landing site of the project.
“DPWH officials are in talks with the stakeholders to guarantee that we are addressing environmental concerns and doubts of the project before we begin design and construction activities targeted by January 2021,” Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar said late Friday.
The meetings in Samal Island and Davao City were spearheaded by Undersecretary Emil Sadain; Director Sharif Madsmo Hasim, of the Unified Project Management Office (UPMO) Roads Management Cluster II; Davao del Norte Governor Edwin Jubahib; Island Garden City of Samal Mayor Al David Uy; and other stakeholders.
Sadain said while right of way acquisition for the project may still pose a major challenge in the course of implementation of this iconic bridge, “continuous negotiation is being carried out with all affected stakeholders and we are hoping to have an agreement very soon.”
“In the end, people may openly understand the value of socio economic development that this project could bring over the cost of land affected. Government must always understand and respect the dynamic process of land acquisition and should employ patience and cultural/ancestral sensitivity in carrying out this process,” Sadain added.
The SIDC, a P23.04-billion project under the government’s “Build, Build, Build” Program, is proposed as a four-lane bridge in the southern corridor to connect Samal Circumferential Road in Barangay Limao, IGaCoS to Davao City between R. Castillo-Daang Maharlika Junction.
The proposed bridge will rise over Pakiputan Strait and is expected to provide a resilient and reliable transportation link between Metro Davao and IGaCoS.
At present, locals and tourists can get to IGaCOs via scheduled 20 to 45-minute ferry/boat ride from Davao City.
According to the department, the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Region 11 in May 2020 issued a certification citing that the SIDC project site is not within the National Integrated Protected Area System.
A 20-day substantive environmental impact statements (EIS) review for the issuance of Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) is also ongoing, with a public hearing scheduled on September 28, 2020.
The project’s feasibility study was already completed in 2019 with the design and build bridge project to be funded by China Loan Financing Facility under China International Development Cooperation Agency.