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San Miguel reaffirms commitment to build P95-B Pasig River Expressway

Conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) stood firm on building the P95-billion Pasig River Expressway (PAREX), which faces criticisms from transport, environmental, and heritage groups.

In a statement on Friday, SMC said it is reaffirming its commitment to build PAREX “as a safe, reliable, and sustainable infrastructure crucial for an inclusive recovery and growth beyond the pandemic.”

Multi-sectoral groups have criticized the project over its impact to traffic and environment as well as being an eyesore to heritage structures along the Pasig River banks.

SMC president Ramon Ang has addressed criticisms on the project, which broke ground in September 2021, saying that the proposed toll road will not cover the Pasig River as it will be built along the river’s easement.

SMC said building the 19.37-kilometer toll road that will link the eastern and western sections of Metro Manila —from Rizal province to the City of Manila— will complement its P2-billion, five-year rehabilitation effort for the historic tributary which started in July last year to mitigate its impact on the environment.

“In all our major infrastructure projects, we always take into consideration the effects on the environment, putting greater emphasis on how we can build the infrastructure while at the same time preserve or enhance the environment. We engage all stakeholders and in particular, partner with local communities to ensure environmental measures and mitigations are successful for the long-term,” said Ang.

SMC said PAREX will be a hybrid infrastructure that can be used by motorists, public transport, cyclists, and pedestrians, to further enhance accessibility and traffic decongestion, while encouraging multiple modes of transportation.

Its design will also incorporate green architecture principles.

SMC tapped urban planner and green Architect Felino Palafox Jr., through his firm, Palafox Associates, for the design of the project.

“We believe that if done right and in line with sustainability and green architecture principles, the PAREX will be a model road infrastructure that further democratizes the benefits and convenience of infrastructure. These are the types of infrastructure we will need in the future--adaptable to the growing and changing needs of our people,” said Ang.

The SMC chief also raised the possibility of putting up a Bus Rapid Transit on the PAREX and the existing Skyway system, which will interconnect, completing the north-to-south and east-to-west connection throughout Metro Manila.

This, he said, will enable faster, more reliable, safer, comfortable and affordable commutes, according to the company.

The project, to be fully-financed by SMC, is seen to 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 City.

Meanwhile, the SMC chief reported that its ongoing Pasig River clean-up initiative has also yielded some 295,260 metric tons of silt and solid waste since it started in the middle of last year.

SMC said it maintains its target daily output of at least 2,000 metric tons of waste, to meet the monthly target of at least 50,000 metric tons, for a total of 600,000 metric tons extracted every year.

The company said its ongoing rehabilitation effort is in response to the government's call for the private sector to help clean major tributaries in line with the Manila Bay rehabilitation project that began in 2019.—AOL, GMA News