Contractor starts work on Samal Island-Davao City bridge foundation

DAVAO CITY – The Chinese contractor of the Philippine government has commenced construction works on the foundation of the Samal Island-Davao City (SIDC) bridge despite strong opposition from environment groups, an official of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said.

Davao City-Samal Island Bridge groundbreaking set next month

SIDC bridge project

Engr. Rodrigo delos Reyes, project director of the DPWH-Unified Project Management Office-Bridges Management Cluster (UPMO-BMC), said that the contractor started laying the bored piles, which would be foundation of the bridge.

The national government awarded the construction of the SIDC project to the China Road and Bridge Corp., a subsidiary of state-owned China Communications Construction Co. Limited.

Delos Reyes added that the contractor has so far completed laying 21 bored piles out of the 74 along the bridge’s current alignment across the Pakiputan Strait.

He said that the completion rate of the project was reported at 4.197 percent and 94 percent for the detailed engineering design which will be completed in July.

He said the bridge’s new target completion is September 2028, or beyond the term of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. who will step down on June 30, 2028.

Marcos led the groundbreaking of the 3.98-kilometer bridge project on October 27, 2022.

Delos Reyes said that there were minor delays in the construction due to the road right-of-way issues with property owners on Samal side but added that the government obtained last January this year a writ of possession from the court over the property of the Lucas family after the expropriation proceedings against the Rodriguez-Lucas Family.

The family owns Costa Marina Beach Resort and its adjacent Paradise Island Park and Beach Resort in Barangay Caliclic, Babak District of the Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS).

The environmental groups, including Rodriguez-Lucas family, opposed the current alignment of the SIDC project as it may destroy the Paradise Reef, a 7,500-square meter contiguous reef regarded by marine experts as a “hidden treasure” and an “important gene bank of marine creatures.”

The SIDC costs P23 billion, of which P19.3 billion came from a Chinese loan.

According to DPWH, the project will “provide a resilient and reliable transportation link between Metro Davao and Samal Island, enhancing internal mobility and external linkage to support the growth potential of Davao region.”

It added that it would also provide ease of access to tourism activities in Samal, enhance community access to employment, education, and other social services and alternative routes during emergency situations and disasters.

The construction of a toll-free four-lane bridge – with two lanes each direction – can serve around 25,000 vehicles a day between Davao City and Samal crossing over Pakiputan Strait, according to DPWH.

Delos Reyes declined to comment on the environmental issues raised by Sustainable Davao Movement, an association of various environmental and civic groups, as there is an ongoing case before the court.

“Anybody could allege anything to somebody. Pero ayaw ko na pong mag salita kasi…napasa na it sa court (But I do not want to talk about it because it’s already filed in court),” he said.

He maintained that the landing points on both sides of the bridge are outside the protected areas.

Carmela Marie Santos, Ecoteneo executive director, said that “centennial” table corals have been destroyed due to the drilling activities.

“What we feared two years ago has now been happening,” she said.

Delos Reyes added that “dust curtains” will be installed to mitigate the impact of construction activities on marine life.