DAVAO ORIENTAL, Philippines – The construction of the Chinese-funded P23.4-billion Samal Island-Davao City Connector (SIDC) project has been suspended due to a right-of-way issue.
The project aims to connect Davao City and Samal Island, to serve at least 25,000 vehicles daily when completed in 2027.
But the project, mostly funded by China and contracted to its state-owned China Road and Bridge Corporation, has faced opposition from various groups, including those questioning the environmental compliance certificate and local stakeholders who claim they were not consulted in choosing the present alignment.
Jowelo Tulaylay, the manager of the SIDC project, said on Friday, March 24, that the suspension was due to their failure to acquire lots to be used as a landing site for the bridge project.
“We cannot finish the design of the bridge project unless we will be able to acquire the lots. We need all the data for the conduct of our technical investigation. For now, the construction of the bridge project is suspended because we are restricted from entering the area due to a right-of-way issue,” Tulaylay said at the sidelines of the first quarter meeting of the Davao Regional Development Council in Mati City.
Tulaylay said his office has already filed an expropriation case for the acquisition of two lots in Davao City.
He said an expropriation case for the acquisition of 10 lots on the Samal Island side of the bridge project has already resulted in the acquisition of nine out of 10 lots.
Tulaylay said they were determined to finish the project by 2027 and have backup plans.
Meanwhile, the Rodriguez-Lucas family, owner of Samal Island’s famous Paradise Island Park and Beach Resort and Costa Marina Beach Resort, and one of the properties affected, called on the government to “realign” the bridge project.
They have offered to donate their Lumos Beach property as an alternative landing site for the bridge project on Samal Island to save a reef, which the family has preserved for almost a century.
The family said they were disappointed about the lack of prior consultation and claimed that the present alignment was decided in a workshop in Manila without the participation of local stakeholders.
Various groups opposing the bridge project also pointed out that the environmental compliance certificate for the SIDC project was issued without prior Protected Area Management Board clearance.
They said the entire Samal Island remains a protected area, and the DPWH has not come forward with evidence disestablishing a protected area or modifying its boundary. – Rappler.com
Ferdinand Zuasola is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.
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