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PGMA to launch SRNH Eastern Seaboard enhanced route

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will inaugurate on Wednesday (April 15, 2009) the enhanced leg of the oldest roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) route of the 919-kilometer land and 137-nautical mile (sea) Strong Republic National Highway (SRNH) Eastern Seaboard trunkline.

The President will also inaugurate other ports and road components connecting the SRNH Eastern Seaboard line.

The decision to launch a new alternate route of the Eastern Seaboard route was made during the President’s Cabinet meeting in May last year on board a Ro-Ro vessel from Jagna Port in Bohol to Mambajao in Camiguin, which forms part of the ARNH Central Seaboard trunkline.

The new Eastern Seaboard route starts from Pilar, Sorsogon and runs through Masbate City and Esperanza town in Masbate, then traverses Naval and Maripipi towns both in Biliran, San Ricardo in Southern Leyte and finally ends in Lipata, Surigao City in Surigao del Norte.

The old route which forms part of the Maharlika Highway, also known as the Pan-Pacific National Highway, was constructed during the time of then President Ferdinand Marcos.

It is the oldest among the Ro-Ro highways that first connected Luzon to the Visayas and Mindanao. It starts from Matnog in Sorsogon and passes through Allen and Dapdap in Northern Samar, Liloan in Leyte and Lipata in Surigao.

The Maharlika Highway link is expected to be further enhanced with the launch of the new Eastern Nautical Highway as it will further spur trade and commerce between and among the islands not covered by the old Maharlika Highway.

To kick-off the SRNH’s new Eastern Seaboard trunk, the President will board on Wednesday a Ro-Ro ferry at the Lipata Port in Surigao City (Surigao del Norte) to San Ricardo, Southern Leyte. The sea trip will take about two hours.

While on board the Ro-Ro vessel, the regional two-on-one media interview with the President will take place. The theme of the interview is “Infrastructure Projects in Full Swing.”

Upon arrival at the San Ricardo Ro-Ro Port in Barangay Benit, the President will inaugurate the P420-million San Ricardo Ro-Ro Port Development Project. She will then take the inaugural drive-through of the port road link from San Ricardo to Liloan.

The President and the Ro-Ro caravan will then motor to Tacloban City via the Sogo-Mahaplag-Abuyog Road and will pass by the ongoing construction of the P870-million Agas-Agas Viaduct Project in Sogod, Southern Leyte.

Pier 1 of the viaduct or bridge is nearing completion. It is about 70 meters in height with 17 leaps, each leap measuring 4.5 meters high. The second pier of the bridge is 50 percent complete.

The Ro-Ro caravan will then proceed to the Leyte Provincial Capitol front road inauguration.

On Thursday, the President will inaugurate the newly-completed Naval Port Development Project in Biliran Province. The P9.9-million Naval Port Development Project includes a Ro-Ro ramp and a new passenger terminal building.

The Chief Executive will then send off the Ro-Ro vessel for the two-hour trip to Masbate. She said the SRNH further enhances public access to various tourism areas throughout the country and offers an alternate and cheaper route for transporting goods from Mindanao to Luzon.

The Ro-Ro network is also expected to create new markets and enhance inter-island trade between Northern and Southern Philippines.

The SRNH expansion will likewise stimulate the entry of commodities to erstwhile isolated areas, consistent with the Macapagal-Arroyo administration's efforts to provide a stable supply of food at affordable prices to all Filipinos.

More important yet, the expansion of the SRNH would provide farmers and fisherfolk added route to market their products more efficiently, thus helping energize and enrich the countryside.

The SRNH has three main trunklines -- the western seaboard route, the central seaboard route and the eastern seaboard route.

President Arroyo envisioned the SRNH to inter-connect the archipelago’s islands and spur economic development from Metro Manila to the countryside. (PNA)

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