PRRD leads groundbreaking of 2 China-funded bridges

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday led the groundbreaking ceremony of the two bridges along Pasig River that will be built by China for free.

In his speech, Duterte expressed his appreciation to China “for their generosity” in funding the construction of the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge in Manila and the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge connecting the cities of Mandaluyong and Makati.

“As a friend, China has once again proved that they intend to join us in achieving lasting progress by addressing traffic congestion in Metro Manila,” Duterte said.

Upon his arrival, Duterte proceeded to the capsule laying ceremony held right beside the ‘Walled City’ of Intramuros.

Duterte was joined by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua and Cabinet members including Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

He said the construction of the two bridges will not just connect the various strategic areas “but will also contribute to our quest to spur vibrant economic activity to an efficient and reliable road transportation network”.

“I am therefore directing the DPWH and the other agencies concerned to ensure that the construction of these bridges will be finished within 30 months or earlier. Maybe at the end of the year? Ah, impossible,” Duterte said, drawing laughter from the audience.

The President said the China-funded bridges are an important part of the government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program, which is comprised of 79 flagship projects including roads, bridges, railways, airports, seaports and irrigation systems.

Duterte urged the DPWH to fast-track the implementation and execution not only of the two bridges but all infrastructure projects “already in the pipeline”.

“Through our combined efforts, we will be able to expedite our infrastructure programs that will improve connectivity and mobility around the country,” Duterte said.

“Together, let us join hands in uplifting the lives of our people through channels that will give them the decent and comfortable lives that our people rightfully deserve,” he added.

Zhao, in his speech, assured that the two bridges will further boost the Duterte administration’s infrastructure projects and will upgrade urban connectivity in Metro Manila.

“Moreover, the beautifully designed bridges would also definitely help present a better landscape along the Pasig River, which in turn, will attract more tourists particularly Chinese tourists visiting Manila,” Zhao said.

He announced that China is “positively considering” soft loans for five more bridges along Pasig River.

“All these infrastructure projects take time, and we’ll do our best to facilitate quality implementation of these projects,” Zhao said.

The grant agreement for the two bridges was signed by Duterte and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during the Chinese leader’s visit to Manila in November last year.

According to the DPWH, the PHP4.243 billion Binondo-Intramuros Bridge project has two-way four lanes with a total length of 734 meters.

It is envisioned to provide Binondo District with a new link to the “Walled City” of Intramuros and vice versa.

On the other hand, the PHP1.229 billion Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge is a 506.46-meter reconstructed bridge traversing the cities of Makati and Mandaluyong.