CATARMAN, Northern Samar—Governor Edwin Ongchuan leads the ceremonial opening of the Simora Bridge along the Samar Pacific Coastal Road, or commonly known to locals as the “Simora-Palapag Road”, yesterday, June 27, 2022 at Simora, Laoang Northern.
DPWH Undersecretary and Build Build Build Program Chief Implementer Emil K. Sadain represented the National Government in the ceremonial opening of the 161-meter Simora Bridge and approach and the first 8-kilometer new concrete paved two-lane two-way road from Junction Simora along Simora-Palapag Road in Northern Samar.
Undersecretary Sadain said that the opening of Simora Bridge and the initial 8-kilometer of concrete road will facilitate better access to some 80 percent of the 1,411 household with 5,538 population mostly engaged in coconut and rice farming covering nine (9) barangays with 1,274 hectares of land traversed by the project in the remote coastal municipalities of Palapag, Laoang and Catubig in Northern Samar.
“After four (4) years of challenging construction, the partial opening of the Samar Pacific Coastal Road is a huge step to the realization of vision to provide comfortable and improved interconnectivity that will support sustainable agricultural development, and contribute to food self-sufficiency program and in sustaining peace and development efforts in Northern Samar,” added Undersecretary Sadain.
Originally slated to be finished in March 12, 2020, which was extended until December 31, 2021, the Regional Development Council, in its 2022 1st Quarter Meeting, endorsed the extension to the NEDA Investment Coordination Committee until June 2022, due to frequent heavy rains in the area which cause hiatus of construction for weeks.
The onset of the pandemic and inclement weather condition in Eastern Visayas brought major hurdles in the construction, delaying the target full completion of the Samar Pacific Coastal Road.
About 29 typhoons has affected the project since it was started in May 2018.
Governor Edwin Ongchuan, in his message, thanked President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for bringing a lasting legacy of connecting the northern and eastern parts of Samar thru land travel.
The governor also thanked the DPWH Officials, and the contractor Ilsung Construction Company Inc. and its partner, Pacific Concrete Products, for taking up the challenge of completing the project this 2022.
“Thank you for augmenting manpower, equipment, and materials resources; Your efforts to expedite the work and minimize the effects of adverse weather is much appreciated”, Governor Ongchuan said.
Ilsung Construction is a giant firm in Korea engaged in the construction of residential buildings, education facilities, public buildings, and commercial buildings, roads, railways, subways, industry complexes, and green belts.
The project, which begins at the Simora junction in Laoang and Palapag towns, traverses the remote villages of Laoang, Catubig, and Palapag.
The Samar Pacific Coastal Road is considered significant in reducing poverty, eradicating the problem of local armed conflict, and improving the economic situation in the area as a result of improved transport connectivity.
“There is an adage that says insurgency ends when the road begins. The provincial government is very optimistic that this road project will contribute to the eradication of the local armed conflict in this part of Northern Samar,” Governor Ongchuan said.
To reach the capital town of Catarman, residents of Palapag and three other Pacific towns—Mapanas, Gamay, and Lapinig—need to cross a river twice through a pump boat ride.
From the port in Pangpang village in Palapag town, travelers need to cross a river to Calomotan village of Laoang, then take a boat ride to the port in the town center, and ride another pump boat to cross the river going to Rawis village.
Costing PHP997.50-million, the road project is funded through a loan agreement between the Philippines and the Korean Economic Development Cooperation Fund.
The opening event was also attended by Major General Edgardo V. De Leon of Philippine Army – Eastern Visayas 8 Infantry Division; Philippine National Police (PNP) Northern Samar Provincial Director Police Colonel Alfredo J. Tadefa; Congressman-elect Harris Christopher M. Ongchuan of Northern Samar 2nd District; DPWH Project Director Sharif Madsmo H. Hasim; Project Manager Teresita V. Bauzon; Laoang Mayor Hector Ongchuan; Palapag Mayor Florencio Batula; Catubig Mayor Galahad O. Vivencio; DPWH Northern Samar 2nd OIC District Engineer Charlito S. Carlobos; and other local government officials.