Construction of dangerous portion of Basilan Highway to start Monday PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 15 October 2017 16:49

By John Felix Unson

Officials will start on Monday the construction of a 14-kilometer stretch of the 55-kilometer Basilan “transcentral road” that would cut through hidden bastions of the Abu Sayyaf.

The construction of the P1 billion transcentral road, launched in early 2016, is being bankrolled with allocations from the yearly infrastructure budget of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Engineer Soler Undug, chief of the Basilan District Engineering Office, said on Saturday that the construction of the 14-kilometer Tumahubong-Punoh Dahingan-Punoh Mahadje-Sampinit portion of the 55 kilometer transcentral road will commence on Monday.

Basilan Gov. Jim Salliman, ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman and his public works secretary, Engineer Don Loong, will lead the kickoff rite for the construction of the 14-kilometer portion of the overland artery, to traverse rugged hinterland terrains in the center of the island province.

“The event for us is symbolic because that 14-kilometer stretch of the highway will pass through very hostile areas where there are remaining lairs of the Abu Sayyaf,” Undug said.

The 55-kilometer Basilan transcentral road is a high-ticket infrastructure project of the present ARMM administration.

It was designed to open up economic corridors in Basilan’s adjoining Sampinit and Punoh Mahadje areas where remnants of the Abu Sayyaf are still holding out, surviving through collection of “protection money” from hapless Yakan settlers.

Abu Sayyaf forces are rabidly opposed to the project, apprehensive it would make their camps accessible to the police and the military.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr. of the Western Mindanao Command, which has jurisdiction over Basilan province, said they are supporting the construction of the 55-kilometer Basilan transcentral road.

“This is one good approach in putting an end to the reign of lawless terrorist groups that capitalizes on poverty and underdevelopment to foment public hatred on government,” Galvez told The STAR on Saturday.

The transcentral road project will connect Barangay Santa Clara in Lamitan City, capital of Basilan, to Barangay Tumahubong in Sumisip, the largest town in the island province.

A portion of the thoroughfare will straddle through hinterlands close to the seaside Maluso town in Basilan.

Undug said the construction of the P322 million worth 14-kilometer stretch of the transcentral road that would connect Barangay Tumahubong to Sampinit area in Basilan shall be done by the provincial government via a memorandum of agreement with the executive department of ARMM.

The initial phase of the transcentral road project, 21 kilometers at P252 million, is now connecting  Lamitan City, Santa Clara, Bohe Nange and Kapatagan areas in Basilan.

The second phase of the project, which will interconnect the Maluso, Lower Mahayahay, Upper Mahayahay, Masola and Isabela City areas, will cover 34.30 kilometers, costing P806.05 million.

The arterial network will also include five bridges costing P195 million.(John Felix M. Unson)