ILOILO CITY-- The pre-feasibility study for the construction of the Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge is expected to be completed by end of the year, said the Western Visayas director of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) on Tuesday.

Ro-Ann Bacal said they met with members of the CCCC Highways Consultants Co., Ltd, a China state-owned company conducting the pre-feasibility study for the inter-island bridge.

“Because now they are on the process of coming up with a pre-feasibility study that will become the main reference of the minutes of discussion between the government of the Philippines and the government of China in identifying the next steps after that,” she said in a media interview.

Bacal explained that after this, a feasibility study will be conducted followed by the detailed engineering study.

“I think they are going to proceed immediately to detailed engineering which will discuss in more details the four alignment options for the bridges,” she said.

The detailed engineering study may take one more year as it will involve technical studies, said Bacal.

“There will be more technical people who are coming in to look at the train, the underwater ecology, and so many others; the wind, the geographic characteristics and they are also looking at the different environment. They will be bringing in their drones to look at how the drones would be leading to the bridges, so on and so forth,” she added.

Bacal said that there is no final arrangement yet as to the funding of the project.

The Iloilo to Guimaras bridge is more than 20 kilometers while the Guimaras to Negros bridge is about 18 to 20 kilometers, she said.  “And therefore you must realize how important the preciseness and accuracy of the studies to help the engineers later on,” she said.

Bacal said that the Chinese company’s current move in conducting the studies for the inter-island bridge is among the results of the travel of President Rodrigo Duterte to China and the good relationship that has evolved after that.

Last September 6, the Chinese group also visited the provincial government here to gather the medium- and long-term development plan and the socio-economic profile of the province, which will be used for the study.(PNA)