Future Samal Bridge will cause costly relocation of oil depots in Davao City

may 16, 2014

Oil depots along the shorelines of Barangay Pampanga in Davao City will be facing a prospect of bearing a “costly relocation” to Panabo City if the P6-billion Samal bridge will come true.

Island Garden City of Samal Vice Mayor Al David Uy said that since the shortest route for the proposed Samal bridge is from Barangay Caliclic  in Samal Island to Pampanga, Davao City, with a little more than a kilometer in length and ten-minute ferry travel , the scenario thought out would be the relocation of several oil depots to the neighboring Panabo City.

“There’s huge cost involved and the consequence of having increased costs of oil due to relocation,” he said, relaying the proposal he came across with in one interagency conference he attended in the past.

The Samal bridge project was recently endorsed by the Regional Development Council-XI as one of the regional development priorities for 2015, drawing again mixed reactions from various quarters.

The project has long been by subjected on-and-off calls by regional economic and development councils and special development bodies based in Davao City for over a decade now for the national government to put up funding to realize it.

Uy said that he is in favor for the Samal bridge “but the number 1 question is how much?”

He said that people in Samal Island have been looking up the planned bridge as free to take for passage but “it is not since the cost of its construction would have to be paid with toll fee.”

“How much is then is the toll fee? Basig modako pa na sa ferry kay dako man nga investment (The toll fee might cost more than a ferry fare because of the huge investment involved,” he added.

At present, people going to and fro Samal Island are taking two ways: via the old lantsas (motorized small boats for passengers only), which number a dozen, or via the two Mae Wess roll-on-roll-off (RORO) ferries that have been operating for more than a decade now.  

A lantsa ride costs a fare of P13 in going to the island, and vice versa to Davao City at P14 per head with the additional P1 levy for the city government. 

Passengers still considered the lantsa as the fastest means of transportation to go to Samal Island as it leaves the wharf every 15-20 minutes, without waiting for the maximum of 70 passengers to ride on.

Taking the Mae Wess ferry cost only P10 but it has more lag time in the loading of vehicles.  

There is new shipping player which entered Samal Island’s shipping business September last year, the Dav-Sam (Davao-Samal) link ferry owned by AMTC firm identified with businessman Johnny Ng. 

But  the lone ferry is observed to have been scarcely patronized by passengers and vehicles as they have been used to taking the lantsas and the Mae Wess ferries.

The Mae Wess ferries are owned by businessman Ronald Bangayan, Uy’s baptismal godfather.

“The Bangayans are family friends of Uys long before. I’m in favor for the bridge but I have many questions, ” the vice mayor said to refute his critics’ charges that he is protecting the Bangayans to allegedly monopolize Samal’s shipping business.

He said there is a need to put up support infrastructures, adding that the issue of putting up the Samal bridge is like “a chicken and egg problem.”

“Will we first develop the island before the bridge, or put up the bridge to develop the island? “ he asked.

Vice Mayor Uy also said that as of now the Bangayans have already acquired properties in Tagpopongan coastal areas in the island that in case the bridge is realized with the Mae Wess ferries losing as a result the Bangayans can shift their RORO shipping operations linking the island to the fronting RORO wharf in Pantukan, Compostela Valley.  

But Mindanao Tourism Council president Araceli Ayusta said that people are still troubled by a delay in crossing of people through the short sea strait “unlike when there is a bridge where people can easily go to Samal Island and enjoy its fine beaches.”

She said that before she was not in favor for the Samal bridge considering its implications to the surge of informal settlers and rise of population and their consequent burden and effects to environment.

She said that beach resort owners in the island like her are in favor for the bridge.

IGACOS Councilor Alberto Ortiz, on the other hand, is not in favor to the bridge saying that besides the expected rise in the number of squatters and the expected consequent problem of waste, housing and food out from increased population, “it is good and enjoyable sometimes to ride a boat in shortest time as Samal in the first place is just so near to Davao City.”

Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo del Rosario, who recently pushed for the RDC-XI’s renewed call, said that massive developments would occur in the island once the bridge is realized. (Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte)

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