President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday inaugurated a P25.2-billion road project in Zamboanga Sibugay province, which is seen to improve connectivity in Mindanao and boost the economic growth in the region.
The President led the inauguration of the Improving Growth Corridors in Mindanao Road Sector Project in Alicia town in Zamboanga Sibugay.
The project, which is funded through an official development assistance loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), involves the construction or improvement of 151.60 kilometers of roads and 34 bridges with a total length of 3,374.87 linear meters in Zamboanga Peninsula and Tawi-Tawi.
In Zamboanga Peninsula, the projects totaled 69.08 km of roads and 11 bridges. These include the 24.03-km link between the Zamboanga Sibugay towns of Alicia and Malangas; the 29.7-km stretch Lutiman-Guicam-Olutanga Road, also in Zamboanga Sibugay; and the 15.35-km Tampilisan-Sandayong Road in Zamboanga del Norte.
In his speech, Mr. Marcos said the government would continue to build infrastructure projects outside the National Capital Region.
The President said the projects, which had been expanded to include additional roads and bridges that would eventually connect Zamboanga Peninsula and Tawi-Tawi, “embody the promise and commitment of the government to push infrastructure development beyond metropolitan areas.”
“We will continue to build roads, bridges, ports and airports all over the country so we can bring Filipinos closer together,” he said.
Improved physical connectivity, according to him, would always “be a vital facet of our development efforts.”
He said the project would provide more jobs for people in Mindanao and “significantly expand” the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area road network.
“So, let us build upon this achievement as we continue the unending work of building structures that will bring a better life and an invigorating future for all our fellow Filipinos,” he said.
The President thanked ADB for being a “steadfast and long-standing partner” in improving the country’s infrastructure programs.
He said ADB’s support “has been instrumental in propelling our nation forward in this path of development.”
Zamboanga Sibugay Gov. Dulce Ann Hofer referred to the event as a new chapter of growth and development in Zamboanga Sibugay and the entire Zamboanga Peninsula as it would bring about ease of transport of goods and services and improve job opportunities for people in the area.
“The completion of these roads is a significant milestone for Zamboanga Sibugay,” the governor said, as it would open “new gateways for economic progress” for her province.
Hofer, however, said they would await the construction of Guicam bridge aligned through the Lutiman-Guicam-Olutanga Road project that would connect for the first time the province’s Olutanga Island to the mainland.
Public Works Secretary Manual Bonoan, who joined the President in Alicia, said the completion of the Guicam bridge next year would be a “game changer,” even calling it a “bridge for peace,” as Olutanga had never been connected by road to mainland Zamboanga.
Bonoan said the road network that would eventually link Zamboanga Peninsula and Tawi-Tawi was still ongoing and would be finished in another three years.
ADB Philippine country director Pavit Ramachandran said the project, which ADB approved for financing in 2017, was the bank’s first project in Mindanao in 16 years. He said he considered it a milestone and was confident that it would bring peace and prosperity in this part of Mindanao.
Source: News Info Inquirer