Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (C) attends the groundbreaking ceremony of two China-funded bridges in Manila, the Philippines, July 17, 2018. (Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday witnessed the lowering of a time capsule, signaling the start of construction of two China-funded bridges across the Pasig River in the Philippine capital Manila.
China has offered to build the 734-meter long Binondo-Intramuros Bridge in Manila City and the 506-meter long Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge in Makati City that will help ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila.
"These bridges will not only improve the capacity and the efficiency of Metro Manila's transportation corridor by providing additional bridges and routes across Pasig River but will also enhance the resilience of our road network against natural disasters," Duterte said in a speech at the groundbreaking ceremony in Manila City.
He added that the construction of the two bridges "will not just connect these various strategic areas but will also contribute to our quest to spur vibrant economic activities to an efficient and reliable road transportation network."
Moreover, Duterte said the bridges "will also increase the transportation capacity of Pasig River and contribute to local tourism due to the improved view of the riverine area."
Duterte thanked China, which he called "a good neighbor," for its generosity in funding the two iconic bridges.
"As a friend, China has once again proven that they intend to join us in achieving lasting progress by addressing traffic congestion in Metro Manila," Duterte said.
It will take 30 months to build the two bridges, according to Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar.
A Chinese contractor China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) is in the country to help build the two bridges in Metro Manila.
Villar said the Department of Public Works and Highways will work in partnership with the Chinese side for the implementation of these projects.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said the bridge projects will further add strength to the "Build, Build, Build" initiative of the Philippines.
"This flagship project will stand as a good example that the Philippine people are benefiting from the implementation of your visionary blueprint of national development," Zhao said.
The beautifully bridges would also help present a better landscape along the Pasig River, which in turn will attract more tourists visiting Manila, he said.
Zhao said the two bridges are part of the list of projects that China will fund.
Earlier this year, two drug rehabilitation centers in Mindanao supported by China's grants broke ground.
Last month, the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, the first infrastructure project financed by Chinese soft loan during Duterte's administration, started construction.
"More of such projects are already in the pipeline and are expected to roll out starting from next year, such as Kaliwa Dam, PNR South Long-Haul Railway, Subic-Clark Railway, Mindanao River flood control project and so on," Zhao said.