An environmental think-tank says criticisms hurled against the proposed P95-billion Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) are premature.
“They seem ready with their guns even if the detailed plan has yet to be presented. Why?” said BenCy Ellorin, an environmentalist and convenor of the Pinoy Aksyon for Governance and the Environment (Pinoy Aksyon).
“While we understand the idealism of those who came forward to supposedly oppose the project, issues raised are conjectures, premature,” Ellorin added.
The group, he said, would rather engage the project proponent San Miguel Corp. to ensure fulfillment of its plan to integrate mass transport system through the bus rapid transit, bike lanes and the protection and enhancement heritage and historical sites along the project.
“There is also no showing yet in any disclosed documents that certain heritage and historical sites would be destroyed. While the issue of the project covering the Pasig River seems a wild claim,” said Ellorin.
What is very interesting Pinoy Aksyon said is SMC’s plan to spend P2-billion for Pasig River rehabilitation, the bus rapid transit and bike lanes. “That definitely is a laudable example of integrating environmental restoration in major infrastructure development projects.”
The group also lauded SMC president Ramon S. Ang for pushing the bus rapid transit, a modern mass transportation system the government has been dribbling for so long already.
The P95-billion Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) could also become a model of green infrastructure, “one that enhances environmental rehabilitation instead of contributing to the degradation of host ecosystems,” said Pinoy Aksyon.
The 19.37-kilometer hybrid expressway project along the Pasig River, an important but gravely degraded river in Metro Manila is being undertaken by San Miguel Corp. (SMC) under the government’s Public-Private Partnership program is touted to be country’s first green hybrid highway.
“It is good that the environment has been placed front and center in this project,” added Ellorin, who also noted that it took the private sector to think of Pasig River rehabilitation a priority.
SMC will separately undertake the clean-up and rehabilitation of the Pasig River alongside the PAREX project. The Filipino company earmarked P2 billion to extract some 3 million tons of silt and solid waste from the river to improve the river’s carrying capacity and flow, thereby mitigating flooding and improving water quality of the river.
A rehabilitated river according to SMC project planners would make possible the safe use of the river as a mode of transportation.
The project, a P95-billion investment by SMC, will be a six-lane elevated expressway that will run along the banks of the river, from Radial Road 10 in Manila to C-6 Road or the South East Metro Manila Expressway (SEMME) in Taguig.
Once operational, PAREX will link the eastern and western cities of Metro Manila and will connect to the Skyway system–realizing the vision of an integrated elevated road network that will link the north, south, east, and west corridors of the capital.
Apart from cleaning the Pasig River, Ang also said that the integration of green architecture principles and multiple modes of transportation will make PAREX a truly inclusive infrastructure project will benefit pedestrians, motorists, cyclists, and the environment.
According to Ang, PAREX will be built to accommodate more than just motor vehicles. Once complete, it will feature a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that will benefit commuters all over Metro Manila, who will then have a comfortable, safe, and reliable, alternative to commuting anywhere in the metro.
The expressway will also have dedicated bike lanes to encourage healthy, environment -friendly modes of personal transportation, as well as pedestrian walkways to encourage walking or exercise.
“This pioneering green infrastructure, a brainchild of SMC and its president Ramon Ang is too good to pass up and could be model for subsequent development projects,” said Ellorin.