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NEDA probes delay in P187 billion PGN bridge

Louise Maureen Simeon – The Philippine Star 

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) will review the P187-billion Panay-Guimaras-Negros (PGN) bridge after lawmakers expressed dismay over the government’s lack of attention to a project it promised to complete before the end of President Duterte’s term.

During NEDA’s budget hearing before the Senate committee on finance yesterday, Sen. Franklin Drilon said the PGN bridge project has remained a dream even if resigned Public Works and Highways chief Mark Villar vowed to complete this before his term ends.

Unfortunately, the project’s detailed engineering design will only start by October next year while construction will move forward by 2025.

Based on the latest targets of DPWH, NEDA Undersecretary Jonathan Uy said the project would be completed only by 2030 or nine years from now.

“I am totally disappointed at the attention given to this project as evidenced by the given timeline. NEDA has to be candid to the Ilonggos and tell them that it is what it is rather than make them expect it,” Drilon said.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said there was a shift in financing from China to Korea and the new feasibility study was only submitted in the first quarter of this year, which the NEDA-Investment Coordination Committee approved.

Chua will meet with the DPWH and the Department of Finance to immediately review the timeline of the project.

Sen. Sonny Angara emphasized that the project has been discussed every year since 2016 and yet no significant progress has been made.

The 32-kilometer PGN bridge, one of the flagship projects of the government’s Build Build Build program, will connect three islands and boost economic activities in the area.

Uy maintained that NEDA is working with DPWH to ensure that the first phase will move as quickly as possible in terms of the detailed engineering design.

“The detailed engineering design requirements include the right of way acquisition and preparation of access points,” Uy said.