Saturday, August 22, 2009 [ manilatimes.net ]
THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is undeterred by the war and military operations in Basilan and other parts in Mindanao as it rushes to complete major projects funded by the Saudi government which are intended to bring peace through progress and development in war-torn areas.
“Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. wants us to expedite the implementation of the project as it is included among the priority projects of President [Gloria] Arroyo because it aims to promote peace and development, especially in Basilan,” Senior Undersecretary Manuel Bonoan said Thursday.
The Mindanao Roads Improvement Project (MRIP) includes the construction of cement and concrete diversion road and the rehabilitation of 189.80 km of national roads, including the construction of four new bridges and the reconstruction of eight bridges in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Cotabato and Basilan.
It also covers three road sections, the Cotabato East Diversion Road, the Lake Lanao Circumferential Road and the Basilan Circumferential Road, which will strengthen urban-rural and inter-regional linkages by improving the road network.
According to Undersecretary Bashir Rasuman, who is in charge of the Mindanao operations, the Basilan circumferential road has a total length of 135 kilometers. The concreting of its 22 kilometers stretch is divided into two packages—the 11 km Lamitan-Tipo-Tipo section and another 11 km. within the Maluso-Sumisip section.
The two packages cost P655 million. It is expected to be finished on September this year.
“The government is serious in implementing this major development project as a lasting solution to the peace and order problem in Mindanao, especially Basilan which is in the eye of the storm as far as peace and order problem is concerned,” he said.
Rasuman added that the construction of the P396-million Cotabato East Diversion Road would open up new areas for investment and development in Cotabato.
He also said the P670-million Lake Lanao Circumferential Road in Lanao del Sur, a strife-torn area, will spur progress in the locality.
Rasuman said the Saudi government provides the resources for these projects through the Saudi Fund for Development.
--William B. Depasupil