LETTERS FROM DAVAO

By Jun Ledesma

THE long-awaited Davao City-Island Garden City of Samal bridge has finally come to fruition with the signing of the concessional loan made available by China to the Philippines. The long wait is finally over. Finance Sec. Sonny Dominguez and Ambassador Huang Xilian of the Peoples Republic of China had exchanged documents on the framework and loan agreement for RMB2.34-billion. That is about ₱17.39-billion or $362 million. The loan carries an interest of 2% per interest per year, payable in 20 years inclusive of a grace period of seven years. 

The Davao-Samal bridge could be the last of the 'BUILD BUILD BUILD' projects of the Duterte administration which will exit on June 30, 2022.  We Dabawenyos have been quietly complaining about why this dream of a bridge seemed to be left out by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, a resident of Davao, shares this elusive dream. In retrospect, it speaks of the character of the President who would look first on the welfare of others before his own. Thus we salivate while the National Capital Region and Cebu get their bridges, trains, roads, subways, and byways while we virtually paddle our way between Davao City and Samal Island. 

China Road and Bridge Corporation will construct the 4-kilometer four-lane bridge come July. Chinese bridge contractors are experts. Back in 2017, we crossed the seas from Ningbo City in Zhejiang province to Shanghai over 36- kilometer Hangzhou Bay Bridge the longest sea bridge in the world! What is really amazing is that seven out of 10 longest bridges in the world are found in China. It cuts across bodies of water and swamps. 

Hangzhou Bay Bridge is an engineering marvel because of the challenges that had to be addressed. The engineers are not worried about the depth of the sea but the tidal current and earthquakes. Travel time from Ningbo to Shanghai, a distance of about 400 kilometers by land, was cut by half.

Our Davao-Samal bridge will be a cinch for the Chinese engineers.  And because most parts are shallow and the water current is not much of a challenge I for one expect completion to be done fast. China uses steel for piles if needed and special cement for strength. 

Presently, work on the wide coastal road of Davao City is ongoing. It will be a marvelous spectacle to see the Davao-Samal bridge from the beach line of Davao City. 

The bridge will have a tremendous economic impact on the Island Garden City of Samal as it will be a veritable tourist destination. Already resorts and hotel establishments have refurbished their facilities. From the Davao International Airport guests can take a cab and proceed to the island resorts. Or billet in Davao City’s hotel, then take a cab to the island to enjoy the fine white sands then drive back to the city. From Davao City guests can visit mountain resorts to experience and enjoy nature at its best. All these destinations in just within a 30-minute drive. 

In time, expensive Boracay will be a second choice. Former Congressman Tonyboy Floirendo once dreamed of making the Island City a free port.  With the bridge in the making, that is not far behind.  I heard someone in the Senate is looking at that plan too.  

Thank you President Duterte, thank you Secretary Dominguez, and congratulations to the Samal islanders! It’s better late than never. 

About the Columnist

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Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.