DAVAO CITY — China is assessing a loan request by the Philippine government for the construction of the Samal-Davao bridge and a decision could be reached within the early part of the year, according to Chinese Consul General Li Lin.
“We are now making assessments of the request by the Philippine side… A concessional loan would be the best for the Philippines because the interest rate is really low (but) the amount of such loans (available) from Chinese side… is very limited. I hope that this can be realized,” Mr. Li told BusinessWorld Tuesday.
“I am not sure of the total amount of the loan. China government will make the assessment on the government budget,” he added.
Based on the project profile approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board in November, the Samal Island-Davao City Connector (SIDC) Project is estimated to cost P23.04 billion, with official development assistance (ODA) identified as the funding source.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will be the implementing agency for the SIDC, a 2.8-kilometer, four-lane, toll-free bridge.
The project will also involve the construction of interchanges with the existing road network, improvements on existing junctions, viaducts over sections of land, and approach bridges over a marine area.
Mr. Li said that he is hopeful that the ongoing right-of-way dispute over the planned location of the abutments on the Samal end will be resolved soon.
“I have heard that some land owners on the IGaCoS (Island Garden City of Samal) side are not willing to give way and I also heard from the report that the governor of Davao del Norte himself is willing to discuss (the matter) with the owner of the land,” Mr. Li said.
Samal is under the jurisdication of Davao del Norte province.
The NEDA-approved bridge design will span the Agdao area of Davao City and Barangay Caliclic in Samal.
The coastal village of Caliclic hosts several resorts, including those that are among the pioneer developments in Samal.
One of the family landowners has written to DPWH, threatening to file a Writ of Kalikasan, a legal remedy under Philippine law that provides protection of the constitutional right to a healthy environment.
Samal Mayor Al David T. Uy, in response, has issued statements indicating that he is prepared to file counter charges of economic sabotage against those blocking the project.
Mr. Li said he is optimistic that a settlement will be reached by all parties.
“It’s a good project… a bridge obviously will be very convenient and conducive for the future progress and development of the island,” he said.
The project construction period is scheduled for 2021-2024. — Maya M. Padillo with Carmelito Q. Francisco