LUNA, Apayao – Gov. Elias C. Bulut cited President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III for approving the release of around P1.3 billion to bankroll the completion of 11 major bridges in the province in order to inter-connect the different municipalities as well as inter-connect the province to Cagayan and Ilocos Norte.
Bulut said the provincial and municipal governments will do their part to ensure the completion of the bridges by 2016 as they will facilitate the resoluti9on of road-right-of-way claims that tend to delay the implementation of the projects.
“We are elated over President Aquino’s announcement of the funds for our long overdue bridge projects. It will surely help spur economic growth even in the remotest part of the province once the bridges are completed,” Bulut stressed.
Earlier, President Aquino personally informed Gov. Bulut of the availability of the P1.3 billion fund for his priority 11 bridge projects provided that the local government will help work out the settlement of existing road-right-of-way issues which are affecting the full-blown implementation of the projects.
Bulut claimed officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) are now closely coordinating with Apayao officials to fastrack the completion of the bridge projects and its road networks which are expected to boost the economic activities and other industries as well as tourism in the different parts of the province.
“It is high time that Apayao will also be developed because the youngest province in the Cordillera has been left out compared to the state of other provinces in the Cordillera,” Bulut aid.
Engr. Edilberto P. Carabbacan, DPWH-CAR regional director, said almost 80 percent of the nearly 500 kilometers of roads in Apayao are yet unpaved but he is confident that the unpaved roads in the province will be concreted by the time President Aquino steps down from power in 206 because of the billions of funds infused for the paving of roads provincewide over the past two years.
In 2013, Apayao received the highest allocation of P1.6 billion for the rehabilitation of roads in the province while another P1.5 billion was earmarked for similar uncompleted projects this year.
“We will closely work with the provincial and municipal officials in order to ensure the settlement of pending road-right-of-way issues because we cannot afford to have the funds reverted to the national government if not used up for its intended purpose,” Carabbacan said.
He said the 11 bridge projects will directly link the upper Apyao towns of Conner, Cabugao and Calanasan to the lower towns of Pudtol, Sta. Marcela, Flora and the cpital town of Luna, thus, motorists will no longer have to pass through Cagayan province just to go to upper Apayao or vice versa considering the existence of the bridges along the Apayao river and the various river systems in the different towns.
Furthermore, some of the bridge projects will help link up Apayao to the nearest town of Ilocos Norte which is Solsona allowing motorists to have direct access to Laoag City without passing through Cagayan province and spending long hours of travel reaching their destinations.
By Dexter A. See