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Residents living in barangays Panganiban, Pinontingan, and Ariman in the town of Gubat, Sorsogon can rest assured that flooding incidents will be less likely in the future because of the recently developed dike project in their area. At the same time, a pleasant view of the ocean will greet motorists along the new coastal road.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has recently finished the Ariman-Panganiban Coastal Road and Shore Protection, a two-in-one road and dike project at the municipality of Gubat. The 374-linear meter infrastructure protects the neighboring area from flooding and rising seas, while also offering an alternative road to the public. Meanwhile, the attractive natural sight also draws in tourists.
The P96.5 million project, funded by the 2018 General Appropriations Act, includes provisions of the shoulder, lined canal, and rock and earthworks. It also covers guardrails, slope protection, and deflector. The DPWH Regional Office 5 finished the construction project last October 2019.
Modernization in Sorsogon
Infrastructure development plans that would benefit the Sorsogon region are in the pipeline. The most anticipated is the upgrade of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Long Haul or more popularly known as PNR Bicol. As reported in Manila Standard, the 639-kilometer railway system will extend from Manila to Sorsogon, marked by nine major stations, including Manila, Los Baños, Batangas City, Lucena City, Gumaca in Quezon, Naga City, Legazpi City, Sorsogon City, and Matnog.
The first phase of the project, which covers Calamba in Laguna to Legazpi in Albay, is expected to start construction in the second quarter of 2020. The contract for the delivery of new trains has recently been signed, according to Philippine Information Agency. The coaches come in three types of accommodation: business class (36 seats), first-class (52), and second class (80). With this, the trains can serve 168 passengers.
The second phase of the project will stretch from Legazpi City to Sorsogon, covering 117 kilometers. Phase 3 will link Calamba to Batangas, about 58 kilometers in length. Lastly, Phase 4, running for 56 kilometers, will extend from Sucat to Calamba.
With the modernized PNR Bicol, travel time from Manila to the Bicol region takes less than five hours, a sharp improvement from the current 10 hours to 12 hours. It’s expected that the railway system will improve economic growth in Southern Luzon and Bicolandia.
Aside from PNR South Long Haul, Sorsoganons will also benefit from the Quezon-Bicol Expressway (QBEx). The construction of the 220-kilometer thoroughfare will begin this year, as reported in Business World. The DPWH forwarded the plan to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). The latter will review, decide on the cost, and approve. The former, while waiting for the go signal, would start acquiring right of way.
QBEx will extend from Pagbilao, Quezon to the Maharlika Highway in San Fernando, up until Camarines Sur, near Naga City, making travel to the southernmost province of Sorsogon faster. Other than cutting travel time, the expressway will encourage the improved exchange of goods between the provinces.
“Most Scenic Gateway in PH”
Meanwhile, the entire Bicol province can look forward to economic progress with the nearing opening of Bicol International Airport (BIA). According to Philstar, the construction is more than halfway complete. By July this year, the work will be finished. It’s expected to serve two million passengers annually.
Stalled for a long time, the construction resumed last year, finishing the runway, taxiway apron, and perimeter fence. Meanwhile, the upgrade of land-side facilities and passenger terminal building is underway.
Given its backdrop of the perfectly formed cone Mayon, BIA earned the title the most scenic gateway in the country. With its modernized facility, the aviation hub will play a significant role in driving tourism, enticing foreign visitors to see lesser-known destinations in the area.
Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, the Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC) Chairperson also noted in a Philippine News Agency (PNA) report that the opening of BIA will attract investors. The presence of several business establishments will help strengthen economic growth and solve the unemployment issue in the region.
An emerging industry expected to take advantage of infrastructure developments, provide job opportunities, and ultimately improve Bicolandia’s economy is business process outsourcing (BPO). Recently, three of its provinces, namely Naga, Iriga, and Legazpi, were identified as thriving cities able to accommodate the needs of the BPO sector, from technology infrastructure to labor force skills.
Sources: DPWH, Manila Standard, PIA, Business World, Philstar, PNA
Main photo via Vladimir Estocado/DPWH