ROUGH CUTS|Is there an approved coastal road project?

IN SEVERAL columns we wrote in the past we have been urging the Davao City Council to ask the proponent of the Sta. Ana Port Development Plan to cause the publication of the perspective of the project in newspapers of general circulation in the city. We were also pushing to put a reproduction of the same on tarpaulin and install these on billboards so that the public will have a clear idea on what the project will look like once completed.

Apparently, our pleas somehow fell on deaf ears. Not even the Council Chair of the Committee on Publications has taken cognizance of our recommendation. Had it not been for the holding of the Davao Agri-Trade Expo recently media people and those who came to join or participate in the activity would not have the chance to see a scale model of the P39-billion development project.

As can be seen in the scale model, four islands will rise from out of the reclaimed portion of the city’s coast line. The total area of the four islands once created, will be 200 hectares. One of the four will be utilized for modern port facilities while the others will be for industrial and commercial locators. And under the Public Private Partnership scheme adopted for the project, the local government of Davao City will not spend a single centavo.

However, contrary to the original perception of most Davaoenos including ourself, the area to be covered by the project is not adjoining the mainland but will be separate. So in order for it to be connected bridges will have to be constructed in order to have access to the new islands.

From our understanding of the briefing made by City Planning and Development Officer Engr. Ivan Cortez, one of the reasons why the Sta. Ana Port Development project will have to be in form of new islands and not within the present site of the sea port and its adjoining coastal areas, is because of the commitment of the local government that no informal settlers will be displaced and relocated as a consequence of the project implementation.

Seemingly, the scale model appears to be a total reconfiguration of the project as conceptualized and as what has evolved in the people’s minds.

Is this also the reason why the City Council did not bother to demand the presentation of a scale model or the project perspective in the public hearings thereof and during the deliberation of the said mega-funded project by the Council plenary?

Or so it seems because had the public the opportunity to view its scale model or perspective before the various committee hearings chances are, there would have been more dynamic discussions on all aspects of the project and its impact on the city’s traffic situation, aquifer and surface water systems as well as to the over-all socio-economic condition of the city.

We haven’t seen the actual scale model though. However, we were able to view the same in the picture published in the front page of this paper last Tuesday. And upon seeing the published photo our worst fear started bothering us.

So, what is this worst fear of ours? It is the humongous traffic build up that will most likely put the city’s economic activities to a stand-still. Yes, because in the published photo of the scale model we can clearly see the proposed bridges to be constructed to connect the four islands to the city’s mainland. And if the bridges’ locations are to be plotted these will all connect to city’s downtown roads that are already experiencing serious traffic bottlenecks nowadays.

So we can only imagine the kind of traffic situation that will develop once the project is being undertaken. And perhaps we can alresdy figure out the hellish traffic condition once the coastal development is completed and locators are already doing their various commercial, industrial and other related activities in the reclaimed islands.

Perhaps to asuage the fear of the public of the impending vehicular chaos in the city, Cortez told the people present during his briefing that a coastal road to be built starting from the shoreline of Agdao district traversing the soon-to-be-developed Sta. Ana port area to Matina Aplaya up to Toril will address the traffic problem of the city.

But Cortez admitted that the coastal road is not part of the P39 billion infrastructure that Mega Harbor Development Corp. Is offering to build for the city government. Worst is that, according to officials of Mega Harbour, the coastal road is a project to be implemented by the Department of Public Woks and Highways (DPWH).

But is the coastal road one of those big ticket infrastructures approved by the national government for Davao City? While it may have been included in the wish list of the Regional Development Council (RDC) for endorsement by the National Economic Development Administration (NEDA) for approval at the national level, and inclusion in the government’s infra budget, we cannot recall of any report of such project being approved for implementation.

Somehow we are perflexed at the report that the DPWH will start the construction of the coastal road next year. Neverhteless, if the report is true then it certainly is one big welcome news. So how will this coastal road complement the Sta. Ana Port Development project?

According to Cortez himself the new road will connect the Sta. Ana wharf area to Talomo on its first phase. And it will be passing over the water way that will separate the city’s mainland from the Mega Harbour-created islands.

And possibly the coastal highway will provide ingress and egress to and from the new development enclaves that will evolve from the P39-billion mixed use infrastructure project of the city.

Posted in Opinion