After years of planning and preparation, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has officially launched the construction of two (2) bridges aim to provide a direct route between the existing major growth center of Bongao, Tawi-Tawi Province with Sanga-Sanga Island and future growth center in Panglima Sugala.
DPWH Acting Secretary Roger G. Mercado together with Tawi-Tawi Governor Yshmael L. Sali, Undersecretary and Build Build Build Chief Implementer Emil K. Sadain, and Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Director Representative Alain X. Morel led on Friday, June 3, 2022 the ceremonial groundbreaking at Provincial Capitol for the two (2) years construction of Nalil-Sikkiat Bridge over Bongao Channel and Malassa-Lupa Pula Bridge over Manalik Channel to mainland Tawi-Tawi island.
The two (2) bridges costing ₱2.14 Billion which aims to decongest Bongao, the capital of Tawi Tawi, by bringing the development in the mainland thru an improved connectivity between islands/municipalities of the province are part of the ADB-funded Improving Growth Corridors in Mindanao Road Sector Project.
“The team of Undersecretary Sadain and Project Director Sharif Madsmo H. Hasim have been working really hard for these projects for years now from the conduct of feasibility studies, loan agreement, detailed engineering design, and procurement for civil works contractor and consultant”, Acting Secretary Mercado said.
Others present at the project groundbreaking are Undersecretary for Mindanao Operations Eugenio R. Pipo Jr.; Assistant Secretaries Ador G. Canlas, Antonio V. Molano Jr., Wilfredo S. Mallari, Mel John I. Verzosa and Rolito D. Manalo; DPWH Unified Project Management Office (UPMO) Roads Management Cluster 2 (Multilateral) Project Director Hasim; Region 9 Director Cayamombao D. Dia; Bureau of Construction OIC-Director Aristarco M. Doroy; Bureau of Design OIC-Director Edwin C. Matanguihan; OIC Project Director Najib D. Dilangalen; Project Managers Soledad Florecio and Emmanuel Supe; and other public works and local government officials.
With less than a month left before the term of President Rodrigo Duterte ends, the DPWH is committed to push forward the implementation of high-impact infrastructure flagship projects under the Build Build Build Program that will bring long-term benefits to the Filipino people in the countryside, said Undersecretary Sadain.
According to Undersecretary Sadain, the construction of Nalil-Sikkiat and Malassa-Lupa Pula Bridges including the proposed Tongsinah Paniongan Bridge over Sanga-Sanga Channel connecting to Papahag Island under DPWH procurement stage and also part of the Improving Growth Corridors in Mindanao Road Sector Project will open up potential in the tourism and fishing industry for Tawi-Tawi.
There is also a proposed port development which is the Malassa International Port because of the economic potential for the island province as it is in the path of international shipping containers, added Undersecretary Sadain, in-charge of DPWH UPMO Operations.
DPWH Project Director Hasim said that the 541-meter Nalil-Sikkiat Bridge, 681-meter Malassa-Lupa Pula Bridge, and 569-meter Tongsinah-Paniongan Bridge were a product of years of research and consultation undertaken.
Undersecretary Sadain disclosed that the bridges were among the infrastructure projects long before recommended to DPWH and the Office of the President by Tawi Tawi Congressman Rashidin H. Matba to spur the economic activities that would boost the economy of Tawi-Tawi and further enhance the quality of life of its people.
Located in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao occupying the southwestern part of Sulu archipelago and considered the largest seaweed producing province in the Philippines, Tawi-Tawi is a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered. It remains an uncharted territory for many because of its geographical location sitting at the southernmost part of the country.
With the construction of new bridges, local and foreign tourist will soon get to see the wonders of the island province – the pristine beaches, historical and religious sites, sanctuaries and marine biodiversity.