Samar road to offer opportunities

Posted on October 22, 2012

TACLOBAN CITY -- Rehabilitation of the 222-kilometer road that connects Samar and Eastern Samar, two of the poorest provinces in the Philippines, is expected to open up economic opportunities and reduce poverty, the visiting top official of US aid agency Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) said.

“By rehabilitating this road, we are doing more than just paving it. We are creating a highway to opportunity,” said Daniel W. Yohannes, MCC chief executive officer, in his speech during the groundbreaking on the road project in Barangay Locsoon in Borongan City, Eastern Samar last week.

“This will uplift the lives of Filipinos by opening up new opportunities for a more prosperous future. As I travel through Samar Island, I now have a better understanding as to why rehabilitating this 222-kilometer road is so important to you,” Mr. Yohannes added.

The Samar National Road Development Project is a component of MCC’s five-year $434-million compact with the Philippine government to reduce poverty. It involves the upgrading of 222 kilometers of roads in 134 villages in 15 towns in Samar and Eastern Samar.

Other components of the compact are the revenue administration project and the community-driven development project called Kalahi-CIDSS (Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services).

Matthew L. Bohn, MCC country director, said the Philippine projects are among the most successful worldwide.

“What’s been remarkable to me is that when we started two years ago, there was nothing. I’ve been really pleased by the way our Filipino partners -- the Philippine government and Millennium Challenge Account Philippines (MCA-P) -- have very quickly embraced the projects,” he told BusinessWorld.

“We are on schedule and we have already seen some results from the compact. I am proud to see the way this money is being used to reduce poverty in the Philippines,” he added.

The MCC officials also inaugurated other projects undertaken under the Kalahi-CIDSS in the region, including a flood control project in Paranas, Samar and a schoolbuilding project in La Paz, Leyte.

About $44 million of the $434-million fund has been spent so far, said Ma. Victoria E. Añonuevo, MCA-P managing director and chief executive officer.

Of the $44 million, Ms. Añonuevo said $18 million went to the community projects while the road project received $7 million.

“For the road component, the amount was spent for the design since we are just starting,” she said in an interview at the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban.

As of this month, she said a total of $159 million worth of projects have been contracted out. These will start before the end of the year or early next year. -- Sarwell Q. Meniano