Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim led the site visit of a road and bridge infrastructure project completed under a $222.5 million US-grant that is now benefiting over 400,000 residents of Eastern Samar.
Funded by the US foreign aid agency Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the Secondary National Roads Development Project (SNRDP) spans 222.23 kilometers of roads and 61 bridges that have all been completed as of September 2016.
Dominguez and Kim, accompanied by Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, proceeded to the SNRDP marker at the Guiuan town proper upon arrival last Monday and inspected the Buyayawon Bridge portion of the project.
The SNRDP, which was part of the MCC’s first Compact agreement with the Philippines completed in 2016, involved the construction and rehabilitation of roads and bridges starting from Barangay Buray in Paranas, Samar, which connects Northern Samar to Eastern Samar, and ends in the town of Guiuan.
This road project traverses 15 of the 22 municipalities in the province, which is located in the country’s eastern seaboard. The Taft, Eastern Samar to Guiuan, Eastern Samar road section of the project is the only access road to 13 coastal municipalities of Eastern Samar.
Eastern Samar, where the main sources of livelihood are farming and fishing, is now benefiting immensely from the project by way of increased economic and tourism activities in the province, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.
“A large part of the development of Eastern Samar has been due to the projects that were funded by the American people through their government. It has done wonders for the area,” Dominguez said after his visit to the infrastructure project.
This project is among the development interventions that contributed to the rise of newly constructed commercial establishments such as hotels, fastfood stores, supermarkets, shopping centers and gasoline stations in Borongan City, Eastern Samar’s capital, according to a report by the International Finance Group (IFG) of the DOF.
With the construction and improvement of roads and bridges under the SNRDP, travel time from Borongan City to Tacloban City in Leyte, the nearest highly urbanized city to the province, has been reduced from four to two-and-a-half hours, according to Evardone.
This has led to an influx of local tourists in Samar and Eastern Samar, with the Samar Island Natural Park reporting a 100 percent increase in the number of visitors last year.