MANILA - The two bridges across Pasig River that will be fully funded by China broke ground on Tuesday, with President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua attending the event.
The 734-meter Binondo-Intramuros Bridge will connect the two historic Manila districts of Binondo and Intramuros, while the 506-meter Estrella-Pantaleon bridge will replace the existing bridge connecting Estrella Street in Makati City and Barangka Drive in Mandaluyong City.
Duterte said the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge and Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge will improve the capacity and the efficiency of Metro Manila’s transportation corridor and enhance the resilience of the capital's road network against natural disasters.
“Allow me to express my appreciation to China for their generosity in funding the construction of these two bridges. As a friend, China has once again proved that they intend to join us in achieving lasting progress by addressing traffic congestion in Metro Manila,” Duterte said.
“Indeed the construction of these bridges will not just connect the various strategic areas, but will also contribute to our quest to spur vibrant economic activity to an efficient and reliable road transportation network.”
The President said he wants the Department of Public Works and Highways to ensure that the bridges’ construction, which will begin this month, to finish in 2 and a half years.
Zhao, for his part, promised that the Chinese government will ensure that the bridge projects are properly implemented. He added, China is looking at granting soft loans for at least 5 more Pasig River bridges.
Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, meanwhile, said the two bridges are the first among the 12 major bridges that the government plans to build across Pasig River, Marikina River, and Manggahan Floodway.
Under Duterte, the Philippines has warmed up to China despite the latter’s aggressive activities in the disputed South China Sea.
The President prefers dealing with China instead of the Philippines’ traditional ally, the United States, and has looked to the Asian giant for funding of various infrastructure and military programs.