SMC scraps plan to build Pasig River expressway

SMC scraps plan to build Pasig River expressway
Design study from Palafox Associates for an elevated expressway along the Pasig River. Image from San Miguel Corp.
  • San Miguel Corp is scrapping plans to build the P81.53-billion Pasig River Expressway owing to public pressure
  • SMC president Ramon Ang said the company is sensitive to public opinion
  • Various groups have warned that the project would be harmful to the environment
  • The 19.37-km PARex was planned as a six-lane elevated toll road

San Miguel Corp (SMC) is scrapping plans to build the P81.53-billion Pasig River Expressway (PAREX), a six-lane elevated toll road over the Pasig River due to public pressure.

“We are very sensitive to the opinion of the public,” SMC president Ramon Ang said at the start of the week, adding that “if the public think that it is not good for the public welfare, we will not do it anymore.”

Various groups have raised concerns on the project’s possible harmful impact on the environment.

The 19.37-kilometer PAREX was envisioned to pass through the Pasig River from Radial Road 10 in the capital city of Manila to the proposed South East Metro Manila Expressway at Circumferential Road 6.

Among its opponents was the non-government organization Advocates for Science and Technology for the People, who said the proposed tollway would cause serious damage to the Pasig River, which splits Metro Manila into two sections.

The project, they said, would block natural sunlight, thereby affecting “the remaining food chain of Pasig River.”

Another group, #NoToParex campaign, said some parts of the environmental impact statement prepared for the project looked as if it had been plagiarized from other documents. This cast doubt on whether a proper assessment had been conducted at all.

As part of the preparation for PAREX, the Toll Regulatory Board was undergoing preparations for detailed engineering designs including cost estimates.

The scrapping of the PAREX project still leaves SMC with a number of other road projects.

SMC also has several tollway projects such as the 88-kilometer Cavite-Batangas Expressway. In partnership with the Metro Pacific Investment Corp, there is also the Nasugbu-Bauan Expressway.

The tollways will pass through Silang, Amadeo, Tagaytay, Indang, Mendez and Alfonso in Cavite.

Other projects in the works are the Northern Access Link Expressway and Southern Access Link Expressway. There is also the Manila Toll Expressway Systems Inc’s South Luzon Expressway Toll Road 5.

From being the country’s largest food and beverage conglomerate, SMC has been expanding to other big businesses, notably commercial property development.

The company is building an airport in Bulacan province planned as the country’s premier gateway in the coming decades.

Meanwhile, SMC recently won the bid to upgrade and maintain the existing Ninoy Aquino International Airport under a 25-year contract.