Zamboanga Peninsula witnessed a momentous occasion as President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. presided over the turnover ceremony of a remarkable 69.08-kilometer, multi-billion peso road network project.

Comprising 11 bridges, the ambitious infrastructure initiative also known as the Improving Growth Corridors in Mindanao Road Sector Project (IGCMRSP), was undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The inauguration, held at the Alicia Gymnasium in Zamboanga Sibugay Province on July 21, 2023, was graced by President Marcos, DPWH Secretary Manuel M. Bonoan, Special Assistant to the President Secretary Antonio Ernesto F. Lagdameo Jr., Zamboanga Sibugay Governor Dulce Ann K. Hofer, and Pavit Ramachandran, the Director of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) – Philippine Country Office.

The three core road projects, financed jointly by the Government of the Philippines (GOP) and an ADB loan, hold immense significance in enhancing the road infrastructure and bridges in Western Mindanao.

Spearheaded by the DPWH Unified Project Management Office (UPMO)-Roads Management Cluster II (Multilateral), the completed core road projects include the 24.03-kilometer Alicia-Malangas Road and the 29.70-kilometer Lutiman-Guicam-Olutanga Road in Zamboanga Sibugay, as well as the 15.35-kilometer Tampilisan-Sandayong Road in Zamboanga del Norte.

The ceremony saw the presence of distinguished guests, including DPWH Senior Undersecretary Emil K. Sadain, Undersecretaries Eugenio R. Pipo Jr. and Carlos G. Mutuc, OIC Assistant Secretary Rey Peter Gille, Zamboanga Sibugay 1st District Representative Wilter Y. Palma, Alicia, Zamboanga Sibugay Mayor Alvie B. Musa, Al-Hadj, UPMO-Roads Management Cluster II Project Director Sharif Madsmo H. Hasim, DPWH Regional Office IX Director Cayamombao Dia, Stakeholders Relations Service Director Randy R. Del Rosario, ADB Senior Project Officer Ruby Alvarez, and other public works and local officials.

President Marcos emphasized the pivotal role of improved physical connectivity in the nation’s development efforts, aligning with the administration’s Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028 and the 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda. He called for continued efforts in constructing structures that will enrich the lives and future of all Filipinos.

During his project briefing, Secretary Bonoan highlighted how the improved road network in Western Mindanao will drive economic growth and development by reducing travel time, ensuring safer and more efficient travel, enhancing peace and order, and creating additional livelihood opportunities for the local population.

Governor Hofer of Zamboanga Sibugay expressed her appreciation for the completion of vital roads, reflecting the harmonious collaboration between national and local governments in pursuing a shared vision of a more prosperous and sustainable future for all.

The Alicia-Malangas Road, constructed at a cost of ₱1.422 Billion, significantly reduced travel time between the Zamboanga Sibugay towns of Alicia and Malangas, benefitting around 3,000 to 5,000 travelers daily. The project included the construction of eight bridges with a total length of 302.52 meters.

Costing ₱1.086 Billion, the Lutiman-Guicam-Olutanga Road Project involved the concrete paving of a national tertiary road, connecting the mainland municipality of Alicia to Olutanga Island. It substantially reduced travel time between mainland Alicia and Olutanga Island from three (3) hours to less than 45 minutes, benefitting 3,000 to 5,000 motorists daily.

The Tampilisan-Sandayong Road Project, with a cost of ₱658.186 Million, upgraded existing combined barangay/municipal roads to standard specifications of a secondary national road. This road now provides a direct link between the cities of Dipolog and Pagadian, bypassing Zamboanga Sibugay’s capital town, Ipil, reducing travel time between Tampilisan and Sandayong from two (2) hours to less than 25 minutes, and benefitting around 500 to 1,000 travelers daily.

The IGCMRSP, funded through a ₱25.26 Billion loan from ADB and P6.117 Billion from the Government of the Philippines, encompasses the construction or improvement of 151.60 kilometers of roads and 34 bridges in Zamboanga Peninsula and Tawi-Tawi.

Once fully completed, the IGCMRSP will strengthen the capacity of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) road network, fostering economic growth and peace and order in Mindanao through enhanced physical connectivity in the region. (ai/mnm)