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GENERAL SANTOS CITY – President Benigno S. Aquino III visited Wednesday the ongoing construction of the General Santos City Circumferential Road project aimed at making the tuna capital city a major hub of commerce in the region.
The P1.1-billion road project is located on the northern and western suburbs of the city with a total length of 27.6 kilometers including five bridges. Currently, 13.6 kilometers of roads were paved and two bridges were completed.
The project is expected to yield 54 percent economic internal rate of return (EIRR) for the city and could initially divert traffic at 4,739 vehicles daily. This figure could grow as much as 11,898 vehicles per day based on the projected traffic data.
According to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the project will result to around 20 percent reduction in traffic volume along the Digos-Makar and Makar-Kiamba Roads.
This will also significantly reduce the travel time by about 42 percent from Makar-Marbel road to General Santos City Airport and Fishport in the city’s western section.
The travel distance along the northern section will be shortened by 25 percent compared to the Digos-Makar road, with about 44 percent reduction in travel time.
The DPWH has allotted a total of P747.02 million for the project from 1998 to 2013. The DPWH said it will fund the remaining P387.8 million from its 2014 budget or from any available funds of the department.
The circumferential road is one of the key projects in South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City (SOCCSKSARGEN) funded under the Philippine Assistance Program (PAP) in the 1990s that has greatly contributed to the development of Region 12.
The project was expected to support the city’s plan to establish a free port for industrial and export processing with General Santos City as the major trade hub of the SOCCSKSARGEN.
Over the span of 14 years, the region’s exports increased to 158 percent from P13.7 billion in 1998 to P35.3 billion in 2011 with an annual growth rate of 9 percent, according to the project briefer.
Among the SOCCSKSARGEN’s major agricultural and fishery products include coconut, tuna, pineapple, palm oil, banana and dried fruits. Its major markets are the US, Japan, Middle East and Europe. These export products are shipped through the General Santos City Makar Wharf, General Santos City Airport and other ports in Mindanao.
Joining the President during his visit here were Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas, General Santos City Mayor Darlene Antonino Custodio and the city’s local leaders.