The Regional Development Council (RDC-Region 7) headed by newly appointed co-chair, and world-renowned designer Kenneth Cobonpue, has finalized 10 multi-billion peso priority projects for the region, to be consolidated and submitted to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for inclusion in the national budget for fiscal year 2018.
Efren Carreon, regional director of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) which serves as the secretariat of the RDC, stated that Region 7 has posted a healthy average of 7.2 percent Gross Regional Development Product (GRDP) for the past five years. He foresees a higher 7.5 to 8 percent annual growths in the next five years with the onset of these new projects.
“By the yearend, we will know the respective contributions of each province to the region. This was never really known before. We will also decongest the overcrowded Cebu Port with the creation of the new Cebu International Port in Consolacion,” he declared during the weekly 888 media forum.
Another large-scale development includes the fast tracking of the long-delayed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), which will ply selected major routes in the city.
Cobonpue scored the need for a master plan for practically all aspects, including sea and air infrastructure, in order to encompass all sectors for a thorough integration of stakeholders concerned.
He observed that past proposals for individual projects from various Local government units (LGUs) were more scattered, with little regard for the adjoining towns. The present setup is expected to be more encompassing in scope for a more synergized approach to development.
Glenn Soco, chair of the RDC-Infrastructure Development Committee, batted for the creation of more reclamation projects, since it is easier to build on new land rather than on mountainous areas, the latter of which comprises over 70 percent of Cebu.
“I support the Mandaue, Minglanilla, and Cordova Reclamation projects since this will bring about new economic activities. More so if we can connect directly to Bohol through a bridge and give rise to more developments, since the cost of living in Bohol is lower,” Soco pointed out.
He likewise said that an airport in northern Cebu, like Bogo or Medellin, would become a necessity due to the flat lands. The same for a housing facility in Getafe, Bohol to cater to workers from the Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) to cut down on travel time.
According to documents coming from Soco, the following projects were sourced from different government and private sectors mainly from Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor of Region 7.
First is the PhP500 million for three feasibility studies and the construction of three Bohol bridges connecting Panglao Island to Tagbilaran City, Pres. Carlos P. Garcia to Ubay, and Bien Unido to Talibon, to be headed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
The PhP303.71-million improvements of the Cang-alwang (Siquijor) Airport, on the expansion of the runway and drainage to upgrade the state of infrastructure in the province is due for next year.
For Cebu, the PhP2.255-billion Metro Cebu Integrated Flood Control and Drainage System Master Plan would also include the cost right-of-way acquisition and relocation of informal settler families, as well as the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) creation of a Local Project Monitoring Office to oversee solely the implementation of the projects in the master plan.
Another is the PhP1.824 billion to conduct a feasibility study and an at-grade road for Northern Cebu’s Mandaue-Consolacion-Liloan Bypass Project and the Southern Cebu’s Talisay-Minglanilla-Naga Bypass for smoother flow of traffic.
The PhP60-million feasibility study for three proposed bridges connecting the provinces of Cebu-Bohol, Cebu-Negros Oriental, and Bohol-Leyte were identified in the Visayas Spatial Development Framework.
The RDC then passed Resolution No. 27 requesting the DPWH to favorably endorse to the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) of the Republic of Korea the EDCF grant support for the feasibility study of the Bohol-Cebu Multi-Access Friendship Bridge.
The three bridges are also part of the Nationwide Island Provinces Link Bridges for Sustained Economic Growth Project proposed by the DPWH Central Office.
To better prepare against unexpected disasters, the creation of the PhP196-million Visayas Disaster Response Center was proposed for inclusion in the 2018 budget proposal of the DSWD Central Office.
In the fields of health and medicine, the RDC also passed Resolution No. 31 requesting the Department of Health to conduct a feasibility study on the construction of a new hospital building for the Don Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City due to the extreme lack of space at the old building.
More road projects include the PhP1.386-billion for the 11 road components of the Mactan Road Network Upgrade, the PhP526.96-million lane widening of the Hernan Cortes Road in Mandaue City, and the PhP300-million V. Rama-Gorordo diversion road including the feasibility study and junction component to cut down on city traffic.
By RICHARD RAMOS