START of construction for the Samal-Davao bridge project remains uncertain as loan negotiations with the Chinese government are still ongoing and right-of-way acquisition is still in the assessment stage, a regional official said last week.   

Maria Lourdes D. Lim, National Economic and Development Authority-Davao regional director, said the Department of Finance submitted an updated loan application last April 26, reflecting a revised financing ratio of 90% loan and 10% local fund.  

The application was submitted to the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) and China Eximbank.  

“It is in the procurement process because it involves foreign contractors and since this is funded by a loan from China, there will be a process of selection for contractors that will pursue the implementation of this project,” Ms. Lim said during the virtual Regional Development Council Week forum.  

In January this year, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) signed a P19.32-billion contract with a Chinese firm for the design and construction of the 3.98-kilometer bridge project that will connect Samal Island to the Mindanao mainland via Davao City. 

China Road and Bridge Corp. bagged the design-and-build contract for the project following procurement activities in Nov. and Dec. 2020, the department said in a statement on Jan. 14.  

“With the signed contract, we can now apply for the loan agreement with the People’s Republic of China through China International Development Cooperation Agency to proceed with the detailed engineering design,” Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar was quoted as saying.  

Undersecretary Emil Sadain, officer-in-charge of the DPWH Unified Project Management Office, said the Finance department’s revised loan application is just a matter of “being circumspect” on the project.  

“Negotiation is a process. Ongoing pa rin ang negotiation nila, government to government,” Mr. Sadain told Businessworld 

Meanwhile, Ms. Lim also said preparatory activities for right-of-way acquisition are underway with the revised parcellary plan still in the works as of June 25.    

“This parcellary plan will be the technical basis to give a headstart to the procurement of the government counterpart and to expedite the right of way and resettlement action plan for the implementation of this project,” she said.  

Distribution of notices of acquisition to affected landowners and property appraisals in Davao City are also in progress, she said.    

On the groundbreaking ceremony that was expected earlier this year, Ms. Lim said, “Let us just wait for the announcement from DPWH, but right now we can say this (project) is still on stream.” — Maya M. Padillo