"Until then, the San Miguel project gets my vote."
Ground was broken recently for the construction of the country’s first urban riverside road project, the 19.37-kilometer Pasig River Expressway (PAREX), which will run along the banks of Metro Manila’s beloved waterway, connecting Manila’s Radial Road 10 to the South East Metro Manila Expressway (C-6 Road).
A chorus of opposition arose the moment the San Miguel Corporation-sponsored project received government approval. The latest addition to the body of oppositionists has been Agham (Advocates of Science and Technology for the People) whose membership includes scientists, science educators, engineers and researchers. Agham wants the government and San Miguel Corporation to rethink PAREX.
“Restoring a river does not mean building an expressway over it,” Agham declared. “Rehabilitating a waterway requires a multidisciplinary approach, from ecological restoration technologies to solid waste management plans and legislative measures,” it said.
Agham believes that PAREX will cause further damage to the Pasig River and the overall urban ecosystem of the National Capital Region, which is composed of 16 cities and one municipality and accounts for 25-30 percent of this country’s GDP (gross domestic product). “The Pasig River Expressway is a 19.37-kilometer death sentence that will kill the hopes for a better Pasig River ecosystem,” said the statement released by Agham.
Agham expressed concern that PAREX would produce more heat in this country’s premier metropolis. “The length of the river will be full of supporting structures, ramps, tollgates and connecting roads once PAREX is concerned…..(and) the river vicinity that is a very good urban heat sink could be a further source of our cities’ heat,” Agham said.
Agham summed up its argument against the P95 billion, six-lane expressway project by saying that the harm from PAREX will far outweigh any of the projected benefits touted by the project proponents, such as solving the traffic problem of the metropolis.
Clearly the most important of the “projected benefits touted by the project proponents” is the contribution that PAREX will make to the solution of the metropolis’s traffic problem, which at the worst times of the day makes EDSA seem like a gigantic parking lot. The project’s proponent - a.k.a. San Miguel Corporation - says that upon PAREX’s completion it will be possible to travel from Manila to Pasig City in 15-20 minutes; today it takes anywhere up to 90 minutes, depending on the heaviness of the traffic.
It’s a great pity that Agham is unable to see that as a great boon to Metro Manila living. It bears mentioning here that in the wake of Skyway 3’s operationalization travel time from the South Luzon Expressway to Monumento has come down to 25 minutes from anywhere up to two hours. Like PAREX, Skyway 3 is a San Miguel Corporation project.
In opposing PAREX, it appears to have conveniently ignored San Miguel Corporation’s commitment (1) to extract from the Pasig River approximately three million tons of silt and solid waste and (2) to keep the river dredged. Anyone who doubts the conglomerate’s sincerity in this regard should observe the progress in the rehabilitation work on the Tullahan River in the Camanava area of the metropolis.
As for the urban heat that Agham fears PAREX will generate, how much, in Agham’s estimates, is generated by the engines of the tens of thousands idling along EDSA practically the whole day?
EDSA needs all the relief that it can get, and the Pasig River badly needs to be rid of all the solid waste and the silt that in places has reduced the navigable part of the Pasig River to a mere two meters. I, and I dare say millions of non-scientist Metro Manila residents, would like to see Agham offer a multi-benefit, realistic alternative to PAREX.
Until I see that alternative, PAREX gets my vote.