GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has fast-tracked the development works of three major tourism road projects worth PHP315.7 million in South Cotabato province.
Basir Ibrahim, director of DPWH-Region 12, said on Friday the construction of the remaining phases of the projects in the towns of Lake Sebu, Surallan, and Tboli are ongoing and will continue as programmed until next year.
He said the projects are under the flagship Tourism Road Infrastructure Project, a convergence initiative of the DPWH and the Department of Tourism.
These are the PHP120 million construction of access road leading to tourist destinations in Lake Sebu, PHP66.7-million road to a solar power plant in Surallah, and the PHP129 million access roads traversing various tourism sites in Tboli.
Ibrahim said the Lake Sebu project, which covers 5.213 kilometers (km), is on the fourth phase and the funding for the remaining portions has been proposed under the 2022 Infrastructure Program.
Citing a report from South Cotabato 2nd District Engineering Office, he said some 4.143-km from the junction of Ben Sidon Bacdulong Road leading to the Lake Sebu circumferential road in Barangay Bacdulong, Lake Sebu is already concreted.
The construction of the 0.600-km portion under the fourth phase is underway while the remaining road gap of 0.470 km will continue next year.
Ibrahim said the road project, which started in 2018, includes the installation of pipe culverts with headwall and outfall; construction of stone masonry retaining wall slope protection; and, the installation of metal guardrail and reflectorized thermoplastic pavement marking.
He said the completion of the two-lane access road will provide a "pleasant travel experience" to both local and foreign tourists to various destinations in Lake Sebu, which is dubbed as South Cotabato’s summer and eco-tourism capital.
“(The) mobility of people and goods as well as the delivery of basic government services would become conveniently available,” he said in a report.
Lake Sebu is known for various attractions within its three mountain lakes and its scenic seven waterfalls.
In Surallah, some 5.410 of the 5.714-km tourism road from the junction of Surallah-Lake Sebu road section to the solar power plant of foreign-backed NV Vogt Philippines Solar Energy One Inc. in Barangay Centrala has already been completed.
Ibrahim said they are targeting the completion within the year of the final phase of the project, which also started in 2018, covering 1.624-km.
The PHP1.3 billion NV Vogt solar power plant, which is considered as among the largest in Mindanao, was commissioned in early 2016 and covers around eight hectares.
Ibrahim said some 4.3-km of the access road leading to Hidak Falls, Panamin Village and Kematu mining area in Tboli has already been completed as of this month.
Under the multi-year project, which broke ground in 2018, he said some 1.40-km was accomplished in the first phase, 360 meters in the second phase, and 840 meters in the third phase.
He said the fourth phase implemented this year covers 600 meters while the remaining 2.90-meter has been proposed for funding next year.
Ibrahim said they are targeting to complete the 7.80-km access road project by 2022, which included the installation of 160 linear meters of metal guardrails, 13 linear meters of reinforced concrete pipe culvert, and construction of box culvert and provision of reflectorized thermoplastic pavement markings.
“The access road will surely help in boosting tourism activities and bolster additional sources of livelihood for locals through safer and seamless road network that will place Tboli in competitive economic and tourism advantage in the province,” he said. (PNA)