By Allen Estabillo
GENERAL SANTOS CITY, July 27 (PNA) — The national government’s infrastructure investments in Region 12 or the Soccsksargen Region in the last five years have so far reached a record high cost of nearly P30 billion.
Reynaldo Tamayo, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-Region 12, said Monday such allocation covered for the construction and development of some 2,515 priority infrastructure projects that were approved for the region under the agency’s infrastructure program.
He said 2,263 of these projects have already been completed and properly turned over to the beneficiaries.
Among those completed were major road networks, bridges and other structures that were deemed vital for the region’s socio-economic development.
Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
“This is so far the biggest infrastructure investment that was poured into the region by the national government. It only shows that we are getting our proper share from the present administration,” he said.
Tamayo said the bulk of these investments were spent on the upgrading of national roads that were promised by President Benigno S. Aquino III in his previous State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA).
He said substantial funds were also released to the P1.135-billion city circumferential road project, which is targeted for full completion before the President’s term ends in July 2016.
President Aquino had twice inspected the progress of the project and has been personally monitoring its implementation, he said.
The other projects were the opening and concreting of tourism roads, the continuing expansion to four lanes of the region’s national highways and primary roads as well as the concreting of the secondary roads.
A report released by DPWH-12 showed that it accomplished a total of 245 projects worth P3.87 billion in 2011 and an additional 264 worth P4.35 billion in 2012.
It implemented 1,264 more projects worth P6.56 billion in 2013 that included five tourism road projects worth P340.89 million.
In 2014, the agency received a total allocation of P6.08 billion for the implementation of 240 additional projects.
As of the end of June this year, DPWH-12 said 210 of these projects have been fully completed, 21 are still ongoing and one has yet to be started.
The agency has posted an accomplishment rating of 91.84 percent for its 2014 infrastructure program that is considered significantly higher than the national rating.
For 2015, DPWH-12 received an allocation of P9.22 billion for the implementation of 514 projects.
Tamayo said that as of June 30, a total of 222 projects have already been completed, 231 still ongoing and 61 have yet to be started.
He said such accomplishment is equivalent to a rating of 32.7 percent that is only short by four percent from the national target.
The official said the DPWH-12 is currently fifth among the country’s 17 regions in terms of overall accomplishment for 2015.
“We’re currently working on some strategies to fast track the implementation of these projects. Hopefully we will reach a completion rate of 85 percent by the end of the year,” he said.
2016 infrastructure program
For 2016, DPWH-12 proposed for a funding of an additional P13.44 billion to fund the upgrading of more road networks and the construction of some vital infrastructure.
The additional allocation for next year will increase the government’s infrastructure investments in Region 12 to an all-time high of P43.3 billion.
David Padlan, DPWH-12 planning and design division head, said such funding was based on the projected construction cost for the identified priority projects in the area for the period.
He said they specifically allotted some P7.75 billion for the upgrading and concreting of 219 kilometers of national roads, P2.5 billion for the widening and concreting of 97.8 kilometers of national roads, P1.1 billion for the construction of 631 lineal meters of bridges, P1.41 billion for 37 flood control and drainage projects and P670 million for 30 kilometers of tourism roads.
Sultan Kudarat will get the bulk of the proposed funding at P4.99 billion, followed by North Cotabato with P2.833 billion, South Cotabato with P2.72 billion, Sarangani with P2.05 billion and Cotabato City with P755 million.
Padlan said the proposed allocation for 2016 increased by 41.39 percent from the approved budget for this year.
He said they increased the budget by 68.97 percent to facilitate the full funding of the ongoing concreting of primary and secondary roads within the region.
With the P13.4 billion proposed budget for the region next year, Tamayo said they expect to fully complete the concreting of the area’s national primary and secondary roads that reach a total 1,521 kilometers.
He added that they are also planning to start with the concreting of some key provincial roads in the region. (PNA)