The much-anticipated mega bridge project that will link the provinces of Iloilo, Guimaras, and Negros Occidental is now inching closer to its construction phase.

After years of feasibility studies between South Korea and the Philippines, the Export-Import Bank of Korea and the Department of Finance have now officially signed the loan agreement for the engineering works of the Panay-Guimaras-Negros project through a ceremonial exchange held yesterday, May 4.

Korea, PH sign PHP 2.96B deal for Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge image

According to DPWH Undersecretary Emil Sadain, the loan agreement worth USD 56.6-million (PHP 2.96-billion) will be utilized to conduct engineering services, which covers the preliminary design, detailed engineering design, including estimation of detailed construction cost, and procurement assistance needed before work starts on the 32-kilometer long Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge.

The proposed island bridges are comprised of two components - the 13 km Panay-Guimaras segment or Section A with a sea-crossing bridge length of 4.97 km, and the Guimaras-Negros or Section B with a total length of 19.47 km that has a sea-crossing bridge length of 13.11 km. Once built, the new inter-island bridge connector will serve as the longest bridge in the country.

Korea, PH sign PHP 2.96B deal for Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge image

Barring any interventions from the next administration, the construction of the Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge could likely begin in 2025 according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and could last until 2030.

Once completed, people can leisurely cross Iloilo, Guimaras, and Bacolod by land for commerce, tourism, and other essential travels. In addition, the Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge, one of the flagship infrastructure projects of the outgoing Duterte administration's “Build, Build, Build” program, will spur many development opportunities for the people of Western Visayas and boost the country's economy.