THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said Tuesday it hopes to soon implement an infrastructure program consisting largely of roads and bridges for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

“DPWH will begin its program to strengthen connectivity between areas in BARMM and other regions of Mindanao by developing and upgrading 176.60-kilometer primary and access roads under the P12.86-billion Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA),” the department said in a statement.

The DPWH added that it targets to “start soonest” the construction or improvement of the 13.9-kilometer Matanog-Barira-Alamada-Libungan Road and the 63-kilometer Tapian-Lebak Coastal Road, after completion of the detailed design study.

“Other contract packages are still underway for detailed design. These are the detailed design works for three-long span bridges in Tawi Tawi Province, the feasibility studies of coastal road projects and iconic bridge for the provinces of Sulu and Basilan, and the 60-kilometer transcentral roads for Marawi City, Lanao del Sur,” the department added.

The Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or Republic Act No. 6734 signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in 2018 requires the National Government to fund and implement the construction and maintenance of national roads, bridges, water supply and services, and flood control and irrigation systems, and to maintain airports, seaports, and wharves in the region.

Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar said his department is “fully committed” to implement the region’s infrastructure program. — Arjay L. Balinbin