THE NATIONAL Economic and Development and Authority (NEDA)- Western Visayas regional office has called on local governments to build up a workforce that can be tapped for the anticipated construction of the Panay-Guimaras-Negros interisland bridges. “Hopefully, this will be a time for our LGUs to prepare its citizens, because this project will be needing a lot of workers, of course we don’t want people from the outside, we would like our people to really benefit from this development,” NEDA-Western Visayas Regional Director Ro-Ann A. Bacal said on Friday. Ms. Bacal said they are optimistic that the Department of Finance will be able to finalize the funding contract for the project this year and construction can start by early 2021. “We have had information that the Chinese government is interested in the project as part of its commitment to assist the government’s Build Build Build project,” she said. The P189.53-billion project was among those given final approval by the NEDA Board last week. The bridges will connect Panay Island to the provinces of Guimaras and Negros Occidental. The Panay-Guimaras segment will stretch 13.1-kilometers (km), including a 4.8-km bridge spanning from Barangay Gua-an in Leganes, Iloilo, to Barangay Getulio in Buenavista Guimaras. The Guimaras-Negros segment will be 17.4 km, with a 12.5-km bridge linking Barangay M. Chavez in San Lorenzo, Guimaras, and Barangay Canjusa in Pulupandan, Negros Occidental. Emme Rose S. Santiagudo