DAR launches Umiray Bridge linking farmers from Aurora, Quezon

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inquirer netMANILA, Philippines — More than 30,000 people living in isolated farming communities in Aurora and Quezon are expected to benefit from the newly constructed Umiray Bridge connecting the two provinces, according to agrarian reform officials.
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) formally turned over on Thursday, the P350-million bridge connecting Dingalan town in Aurora and General Nakar in Quezon.

“The construction of the Umiray Bridge will change the lives of the people here,” Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio De Los Reyes said in a news release.

“The bridge will not only improve their living conditions, it will also open opportunities for the economic growth and development of about 11,000 hectares of agricultural lands,” he said.

The 358-meter bridge project was implemented by the DAR with funding under Japan’s Grant-Aid Program through the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

De los Reyes said that more than 30,000 people would benefit from the bridge, including some 13,000 families living in five agrarian reform communities: Umiray, Poblacion, Ibona, Gen. Nakar and Matawe.

The DAR would further improve the access of these communities to economic and social services under its Program Beneficiaries Development, he said.

“With this bridge, farmers’ income will improve for they can now cross the river and transport their farm yield with ease and with minimal travel expense,” De Los Reyes said.

Before the bridge was built, residents of Dingalan and Gen. Nakar used to ride boats to reach the other side, said Agrarian Reform Undersecretary Jerry Pacturan, also the agency’s Project Implementation Officer for Foreign-Assisted Projects.

“If the water level of the river is low, vehicles can cross but they have to go through a 30-kilometer logging road along a hilly and very rugged terrain,” he said.

“That’s added expense for farmers who pay a P70 manual hauling fee per sack of their produce and another P20 for boat fare,” he added.

Pacturan said the majority of these communities in the eastern part of Quezon have been separated by the Umiray River from mainland Aurora, physically isolated from government’s basic services especially during rainy weather.

“With the construction of the Umiray bridge, farmers now pay only P15 hauling fee per sack, a clear savings of P55 per sack,” he said. (DJ Yap, PDI)