ADB approves $380-M loan to rehabilitate Zamboanga roads
The Asian Development Bank has approved a $380-million loan for a project aimed at improving road networks in the isolated Zamboanga peninsula as part of its $1-billion financing program for Mindanao over the next three years.
ADB country director for the Philippines Richard Bolt told reporters Friday that the loans to be extended to projects in Mindanao under the 2018-2020 Country Operations Business Plan would be the biggest for the Manila-based multilateral lender.
The ADB had programmed to lend the Philippines a total of $3.68 billion in the three-year period to support the Duterte administration’s plan to build more infrastructure as well as reduce poverty incidence.
Last Thursday, the ADB approved its largest infrastructure investment in the war-torn southern island, the Improving Growth Corridors in Mindanao Road Sector Project to be implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways.
The project will rehabilitate 280 kilometers of national roads and bridges in southwestern Mindanao mainly to connect the Zamboanga peninsula from north to south.
The ADB funding was its first Mindanao-specific loan since 2001. The Philippine government will provide its share of $123 million to roll out the $503-million project.
In a statement, the ADB said the Improving Growth Corridors in Mindanao Road Sector Project would help the transport system better deal with the effects of climate change through features such as elevated pavements, enhanced slope protection and better drainage.
“It will benefit women by improving their access to basic infrastructure, social services and economic or financial resources or opportunities. Communities will also benefit from road safety awareness campaigns to be conducted under the project. All project roads will be geo-tagged with information accessible on the internet so the public can monitor road investment projects throughout the project life cycle, including procurement and construction,” the ADB added.
“Mindanao’s road network is less developed than the national average, with only 70 percent of the roads paved, compared with 82 percent in Luzon and 89 percent in the Visayas. Despite its rich natural resources, Mindanao also has the highest poverty incidence among the Philippines’ three island groups at 32 percent, largely because of civil conflict and low economic growth,” the ADB noted.
Improving roads in Mindanao will support the development of economic opportunities in areas such as agribusiness, ecotourism and logistics, and improve access to markets, jobs, education and health facilities, said Jeffrey Miller, principal transport specialist at the ADB’s Southeast Asia department. —BEN O. DE VERA
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