Bridges to link Panay, Guimaras, Negros islands in the works

THE dream for bridges to connect Panay Island, Guimaras Island and Negros Island in Western Visayas is moving closer to reality after the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said it is targeting the first quarter of 2023 to begin work on the project.

The 32.47-kilometer Panay-Guimaras-Negros (PGN) Island Bridges Project involves the construction of two sea-crossing bridges connecting Panay Island, Guimaras Island and Negros Island, the DPWH said in a statement.

The link between Panay and Guimaras (Section A) would have a total length of 13 kilometers, broken down into 4.97 kilometers for the sea-crossing bridge and 8.03 kilometers for the road approaches.

On the other hand, the link between Guimaras and Negros (Section B) would have a total length of 19.47 kilometers, broken down into 13.11 kilometers for a sea-crossing bridge, 5.49 kilometers for road approaches and 0.87 kilometers for road connectors.

The interlinked bridges would reduce the travel time for commuters, motorists and transporters of goods from Panay to Negros Islands to less than an hour, from the three to four hours that the same trip currently involves using ferries.

Panay hosts the popular tourist destination Boracay, while Guimaras, known for its mangoes, also offers ecotourism and religious tourism.

Negros, on the other hand, hosts sugarcane fields, as well as prawn farms, industrial plants, ancestral homes as well as ecotourism sites.

DPWH Senior Undersecretary Emil Sadain said the detailed engineering design (DED) activities for the PGN Island Bridges Project are targeted to begin by the first quarter of 2023.

“The procurement of consulting services for the DED and tender assistance is ongoing and submission and receipt of bidding documents is scheduled this December 2022,” the DPWH said.

The scope of engineering services would include the “preliminary design covering review of the feasibility study and preliminary and basic design; detailed engineering design including estimation of detailed construction cost; and procurement assistance.”

The DPWH said the loan agreement is now in effect after the Department of Finance (DOF) issued on Oct. 24, 2022 the evidence of authority for the engineering services of the PGN Island Bridges Project.

Earlier this year, the Philippine government secured $56.6 million (P3.3 billion) in loans from the Government of the Republic of Korea for the engineering services of the PGN Island Bridges project.

The DOF and Export Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM) exchanged signed loan agreements for the engineering services of the project last May.

“In line with the loan guidelines, the KEXIM-Economic Development Cooperation Fund issued last September a notice of concurrence on the shortlist of consultants for the DED,” the DPWH said. (CTL)