DPWH: Final alignment of Samal-Davao Bridge is the product of “in-depth study by experts”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/October 08) – The final approved alignment of the 3.98 billion kilometer Samal Island-Davao Connector (SIDC) project is the product of “extensive study by experts,” according to the Department of Works Highways and Highways (DPWH).

In a statement on Friday, the DPWH said the final alignment was designed with significant consideration for the environment contrary to claims by the Rodriguez family that the study was hastily carried out by government consultant Ove Arup. & Partners Hong Kong Ltd. consultation with landowners.

The DPWH said it is also considering the necessary navigation safety management for ships and the height restriction for air transport.

The landing point of the bridge, also known as Davao City-Samal Bridge, is located on the coast of Costa Marina Beach Resort, which is adjacent to Paradise Island Park & ​​Beach Resort in Barangay Caliclic, Babak District from the Garden City Island of Samal (IGACOS).

The proposed Samal Island-Davao City Connector (SIDC) bridge project. Illustration taken from the DPWH tender dossier.

The Rodriguez family, who operate the resorts, said continuing the current alignment would cause irreversible damage to Paradise Reef, a 300-metre contiguous reef located off the coast of the two adjacent resorts.

The DPWH said “state-of-the-art modern technology in constructing deep foundations for a bridge across the sea” would be used to prevent the destruction of marine life.

He added that a geotechnical survey plan prepared by design and construction contractor China Road and Bridge Corporation indicates that there will be a total of 97 boreholes – 63 for Davao onshore, 18 offshore and 16 for Samal onshore. .

On June 13, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian discussed with then-Finance Secretary Dominguez the signed framework agreement and loan agreement worth 350 million dollars or 18.67 billion pesos for the bridge.

He added that all necessary permits and requirements from local government units and national government agencies have been obtained while the local governments of Island Garden City of Samal and Davao City have not objected to the current alignment of the bridge.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) issued an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) as early as December 2020.

He said the national government has established the Multi-stakeholder Monitoring Team (MMT) and the establishment of the Environmental Monitoring Fund (EMF) and the Environmental Guarantee Fund (EGF), a requirement before the ECC can be issued.

He said that the EMF is a “fund that the developer agrees to establish to support the activity monitoring team”, while the EMF will be “used exclusively for the immediate rehabilitation of areas affected by damage to the environment and the resulting deterioration in environmental quality. a direct consequence of the construction, operation and abandonment of the project.

He added that the fund is “for emergency clean-up activities, environmental improvement measures, damage prevention programs and social equity measures, including information activities, d education, communication and necessary capacity building related to the project”.

On October 5, the Rodriguez family questioned the lack of prior consultation, saying the current alignment “was chosen at a workshop in Manila without the participation of landowners and local stakeholders.”

They said the ECC for the SIDC project was issued without prior clearance from the Protected Areas Management Board (PAMB).

The DPWH claimed that the PAMB issued a resolution in October 2020, “giving authorization or expression of support for the SIDC project”.

The Rodriguez family, however, reiterated that contrary to DPWH’s assertion that the Samal landing site is outside of a protected area, the whole of Samal Island remains a protected area and has in was established as a Mangrove Forest Reserve under Proclamation No. 2152, a first component of the National Integrated System of Protected Areas. Proclamation 2152 was issued by President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, father of the outgoing President, on December 29, 1981.

“The law requires an act of Congress to dissolve a protected area or change its boundaries. The DPWH presented no such evidence with respect to Samal Island,” the Rodriguez family said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/ MindaNews)

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