MAASIN CITY—The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) will conduct a joint study for the possible construction of two bridges that will connect Leyte island to Bohol and Mindanao.
When constructed, the bridge will ease the transport by land and will make travel possible even during bad weather to Bohol and Mindanao. Current land transport to these islands from Leyte is through roll-on, roll-off boats where buses are boarded for transport to a port at the other side.
The research team from the Jica has arrived in Southern Leyte on Monday to begin its monthlong study on the proposed long-span Leyte-Bohol and Leyte-Surigao bridge projects.
A team of DPWH Southern Leyte engineers will accompany the survey team to Guadalupe village in Maasin City, and Benit village in San Ricardo town.
Benit has an existing port that serves as the region’s exit point to Mindanao, while Guadalupe is the nearest point in Southern Leyte to Bohol Island.
DPWH Southern Leyte office chief Ma. Maragarita C. Junia said this could be the initial step in the realization of the Duterte administration’s ambition to connect Leyte to Bohol and Mindanao islands.
“We’ve seen how other provinces have improved their economy and having a wide road network is a major factor for it,” Junia said.
She clarified, though, that this is not yet part of the actual feasibility study but will help determine proper measures to undertake before drafting its master plan.
“This would surely be a long process. The fund has not yet been sourced, and other equally vital bridges are planned. This will involve a huge sum of money,” she added.
Recently, Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado filed House Bills 6755 and 6756, asking the government to fund the construction of the bridges.
The solon underscored the constricted and limited economic activity in these areas. Hence, construction of these major bridges will enhance the economic activity, considering its larger economic scale.
“If pushed through, these big-ticket projects will probably be directly implemented by the central office. However, as local agency partner, we will provide assistance, especially in monitoring during the construction period,” Junia said.
Earlier, the research team conducted similar initial studies in Iloilo, Negros, Cebu and Guimaras as sites of high-impact bridge projects in the Visayas.
Jica is a long-time development ally of the Philippines that provides technical and financial assistance in the country’s development projects with the goal to sustain economic growth and promote human security.
Connecting these major islands is expected to increase mobility in the area, providing new job opportunities, boosting tourism and gradually improving the lives of people here.