The province of Palawan will soon start turning its 600-kilometer arterial road from southern to the northern side into a six-lane superhighway to further boost tourism potentials, and in support of the sub-regional economic co-operation initiative Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Vision 2025 on facilitating free movement of people, goods, and services.
Lawyer and provincial information officer Gil Acosta Jr. told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview Wednesday that the “ambitious plan of developing the province’s national road, which costs PhP30 billion, has been approved by President Rodrigo Duterte, and will be coursed through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)”.
He said an initial amount of PhP3 billion has been downloaded to the DPWH for the six-lane superhighway project, and bidding has started late last year.
“Initially, PhP3 billion is already there to start the pilot project, which will be in the 2nd Palawan District, from Narra to Bataraza in the southern side,” he said, adding Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez’s firm effort to implement all the “infrastructure goals” under IHELP (infrastructure, health, education, livelihood, and protection of the environment) helped clinch President Duterte’s approval.
Negotiations, he said, have now shifted to the DPWH and other concerned national government agencies to craft and settle the details of the project and finalize implementation.
For decades, the existing two-lane National Highway in Palawan that meanders from El Nido in the north to Bataraza in the south provides accessibility to the municipalities in the mainland.
The narrow road is an unwelcome sight for visiting tourists, who troop to the island to enjoy its premier destinations. Thus, the provincial government responded to the call with urgency and strong resolve, said Acosta.
“The robust growth of the local economy attributed primarily to the thriving tourism industry made it imperative for the provincial leadership to seek remedy to address the need for wider roads for ease of travel,” he stated.
“Taking into account the citation earned by Palawan as the “World’s Best Island” destination, Governor Alvarez is quick to capitalize on it as the bargaining chip in lobbying for funds to finance the big-ticket infrastructure project,” Acosta said.
He said “the expansion of the arterial road would make it convenient for motorists to haul agricultural and fishery products of rural communities dotting the countryside.”
The six-lane superhighway project is targeting completion within the next three years, and is expected to further accelerate the development and inclusive growth of Palawan in the coming years.
“This six-lane superhighway is also for the BIMP-EAGA economic cooperation initiative since the objective is to connect Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia to Buliluyan in Bataraza to San Fernando, El Nido to Coron,” Acosta said.
Under the BIMP-EAGA Vision 2025, the other target linkages of the transport sector include the Bitung-Tahuna-Gensan, Brooke’s Point-Sandakan-Kota Kinabalo, Brooke’s Point-Bataraza-Kudat and Brooke’s Point-Brunei.