- CHERYL G. CRUZ
The Republic of Korea is ready to extend financial support in the conduct of engineering services for the much-awaited Panay-Guimaras-Negros (PGN) Bridge Project, an inter-island bridges project of the Department of Public Works and Highways in Western Visayas.
DPWH Undersecretary for Unified Management Office Operations Emil Sadain said that the Koreans have committed an Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan to the Philippines through the Korea Export-Import (Kexim) Bank-Economic Development Cooperation Fund to finance the detailed engineering design (DED) of this immense flagship bridge project, the Department of Finance posted on its Facebook page Nov. 23.
The loan will be formalized with a signing ceremony next month, it added.
DPWH Acting Secretary Roger Mercado said that after the completion of supplemental feasibility studies by the Koreans is the DED of the Panay-Guimaras-Negros (PGN) Bridge Project.
“The soon to be the longest bridge in Region 6 will be the fastest way by land where people can leisurely cross Iloilo, Guimaras, and Bacolod for commerce, tourism, and other essential travels,” Mercado said in a statement.
The proposed island bridges project connecting Panay Island, Guimaras, and Negros Island has two components.
These are the 13 kilometers Panay-Guimaras, or Section A, that will have a sea-crossing bridge length of 4.97 kilometers.
The Guimaras-Negros, or Section B, has a total length of 19.47 kilometers, including the sea-crossing bridge length of 13.11 kilometers, the DPWH said.
The supplementary feasibility study report and engineering service provision for the project was approved by the NEDA Board’s Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee in August 2021.
The 32-kilometer bridge is a large and complex project which requires comprehensive and high-standard engineering works, and consultants, who have extensive experience in long-span bridges, will help DPWH prepare the construction in an efficient and timely manner, Sadain added.
The Minutes of Discussion for the financial support on engineering services, including the preliminary and detailed engineering design and procurement assistance required prior to the construction of the bridge was signed Oct. 28, 2021 by Sadain and country director Jae-jeong Moon from the Manila Representative Office of the Kexim Bank.
The signing ceremony was also attended by deputy director Soohhyung Han and Ana Labella of Kexim Bank, and project director Benjamin Bautista of the DPWH UPMO Roads Management Cluster 1.
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the DPWH-Korean government-funded flagship infrastructure projects are steadily moving forward, it added.
Kexim Bank-EDCF is also presently supporting civil works on the Integrated Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation Measures in low-lying areas of Pampanga to boost disaster resilience; the Samar Pacific Coastal Road Project connecting the Pacific towns in Northern and Eastern Samar to bolster the agricultural and fishing industry in Eastern Visayas; and the Panguil Bay Bridge connecting Tangub, Misamis Occidental and Tubod, Lanao Del Norte. — CGC