The Philippines will receive a $2.35 billion loan from Japan’s aid arm Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at low interest rates for building infrastructure and COVID-19 response.
On June 16, Department of Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III and JICA Chief Representative in the Philippines Eigo Azukizawa signed two loan agreements: 35 billion yen for the Cebu-Mactan bridge and a four-lane coastal road, and 35 billion yen as additional funds for the Davao City bypass construction.
According to Dominguez, the Cebu project was the biggest infrastructure project for the Visayas region under the Build, Build, Build program. The JICA loan will cover three-fourths of the project’s P76.4-billion price tag.
“It will create jobs in the Queen City of the South and dramatically improve movement of goods and people. Through this project, travel time from Mactan-Cebu International Airport to the Cebu port area will be reduced to 27 minutes from the current 44 minutes,” Dominguez said.
The project is set to start next year, and should be completed by 2029.
“The conduct of the detailed engineering design for this project will also be financed by JICA through a grant. This project will break ground in 2021 and is expected to be completed in 2029,” he added.
The Mindanao project on the other hand is a 45.5-kilometer bypass road with four lanes. It will help shorten travel between Barangay Sirawan in Toril, Davao City and Barangay JP Laurel in Panabo City. It takes one hour and 44 minutes via the Maharlika Highway, but with the new road, it will only take 49 minutes, Dominguez said.
A 2.3-kilometer tunnel will also be included in the project. Travel time between barangays Matina Biao and Waan in Davao City will only take 5 minutes using the tunnel—an improvement from the usual 44-minute drive along local roads.
A loan is not the only thing Japan is extending to make the infrastructure projects a reality, as Japanese technology will be used for the construction of the bypass road and tunnel. Dominguez said the Mindanao projects will start construction this year and should be operational by 2023.