By Rjay Zuriaga Castor
The construction of the Panay-Guimaras-Negros (PGN) Island Bridges Project in Western Visayas is proceeding at full throttle following the courtesy visits of Korean joint venture engineering companies to the local chief executives affected by its construction.
Representatives of Korean joint venture engineering companies have so far met with Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, and Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr.
The courtesy visit, which started on January 22 and will continue until the 27th, seeks to provide updates on the status of the detailed engineering design (DED) of the inter-island bridge project.
The DPWH in December last year approved the P2.671 billion contract agreement of consulting services for the DED of the 32.47-kilometer inter-island bridge project.
The consultancy services for the DED will be conducted by the Yooshin Engineering Corporation, in a joint venture with Kyong-Ho Engineering and Architects Co., Ltd., Dohwa Engineering Co., Ltd., Soosung Engineering Co., Ltd., and Dasan Consultants Co., Ltd.
The DED includes a detailed construction cost, bridge design, program of works, a feasibility study to pinpoint the exact geographic starting point of the project, and an assessment of underwater soil conditions.
Lacson disclosed in a media interview on January 24 that the funding of the PGN is already part of the 2024 General Appropriations Act.
“We can expect up to the next 21 months the detailed engineering design (DED) for the Iloilo-Guimaras Section A and Guimaras-Negros Section B. Section A will only take one year, and Section B will take 21 months. The good news is this is already fully funded for the DED,” he added.
Department of Public Works and Highways-Western Visayas (DPWH-6) officer-in-charge director Sanny Boy Oropel maintained to Daily Guardian on Thursday that the PGN bridge project will be completed under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“The budget for the PGN, part ni siya sang atun nga foreign-assisted projects so the detailed engineering design (DED) is assured na sang atun nga budget,” he said.
The cost of engineering services for the PGN bridge project will be funded by a loan from the Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM). In May 2022, the Korean and Philippine governments signed a loan agreement of $56.6 million under the KEXIM.
He added: “The Panay-Guimaras segment 1 will be completed at the end of December 2024. Right after December 2024, the turnover and the start of the civil works will immediately begin and hopefully, the civil works for the Panay-Guimaras segment 1 will start in the second semester of 2025.”
The PGN bridge is divided into two sections: Section A, connecting Panay Island to Guimaras Island, and Section B, linking Guimaras Island to Negros Island.
According to Oropel, the Korean government would supposedly finance the 13-kilometer Panay-Guimaras section only since the Guimaras-Negros section is longer at 19.47 kilometers and requires bigger funding.
Initial information revealed that Section A of the project would only cost about P58 billion, while Segment B would cost more than double or up to P120 billion.
Civil works for the PGN bridge are expected to be completed by 2032.