PINUKPUK CITY, the Philippines, June 8 (Xinhua) -- The construction of a China-funded irrigation project in northern Philippines started on Friday.
The project will provide stable supply of water to nearly 9,000 hectares of agricultural land and create thousands of jobs in Kalinga and Cagayan, two northern Philippine provinces.
The Chico River Pump Irrigation Project will provide water to 8,700 hectares of agricultural land, benefit 4,350 farming families and serve 21 villages in the two provinces in main Luzon island.
The project, which will be implemented by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) of the Philippines, costs an estimated 83.89 million U.S. dollars, according to the Department of Finance.
"This provides a perfect demonstration of our efficient work and close cooperation," Jin Yuan, the economic and commercial counselor of the Chinese Embassy to the Philippines said during the groundbreaking ceremony held in Pinukpuk city of Kalinga.
As the first infrastructure project financed by Chinese soft loan during President Rodrigo Duterte's administration, the project involves installation of pumps, construction of pumping station, irrigation canals and other structures.
It is estimated that 14,784 jobs will be created during its implementation and over 8,000 permanent jobs will remain when it becomes operational.
The irrigation project is among the flagship infrastructure projects that the Duterte administration is undertaking under its "Build, Build, Build" program as the linchpin of its strategy is to develop major alternative growth areas in central and northern Luzon.
Speaking on behalf of the Philippines, NIA Administrator Ricardo Visaya said it will take three years for the project to be completed.
He thanked China for its "unfailingly support" to the development projects of the Philippines.
Visaya said the breaking of the ground of the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project "marks the sailing of the first of the flagship projects to be implemented by NIA" under "Build, Build, Build" program.
"This is a strong move to carry on the power of redesigning the future of the country and uplifting the lives of greater Filipinos," Visaya said.
Project contractor China CAMC Engineering Corporation told Xinhua that they have completed three large scale projects in the Philippines since 2003.
This time, just as before, the company will hire thousands of workers from local labor market, the company said.