Pasig River Expressway: a Brilliant Idea, Thanks to All the San Miguel Beer Drinkers

Automologist HAROLD has a reason now to drink more beer…

Image source: San Miguel Corporation

A 19.37km expressway that traverses the most notorious river in Manila? Really? Yes, it is under construction now, jointly undertaken by the Philippine National Construction Corporation (PNCC) and San Miguel Holdings Corporation (SMHC), at an estimated project cost of P90 billion. At least beer-loving Filipinos can claim some good has come from their drinking habit.

One of the major causes of delays in infrastructure projects in the Philippines is the issue of “right of way” when landowners do not allow the government to exercise its right of eminent domain – that is, taking private property for public use but paying the private owner just compensation. Landowners take the government to court mostly for the “just compensation” part. As a result, critical infrastructures are held hostage for years pending court decisions.

A classic case is the Skyway 3 that connects the South and North Expressway, which experienced a construction standstill that went on for years, but the San Miguel Corporation, the private party in this collaboration, and the government brilliantly by-passed the right-of-way problem by diverting the Skyway 3 to traverse the San Juan River. This gave them the idea of doing the same over the Pasig River.

The Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) Project is a six-lane, all-elevated expressway which traverses the entirety of Pasig River. The project starts from Radial Road 10 in the City of Manila and will terminate at a connection to the South East Metro Manila
Expressway at Circumferential Road 6. The Project will connect and utilize a 2.7km portion of Skyway Stage 3 from Nagtahan to Plaza Azul.

Image source: ABS-CBN

San Miguel Corporation had just connected the South and North Expressways, now is connecting the East and West of Mega Manila – Eastern cities of Marikina, Pasig and Taguig and Rizal towns of Cainta and Taytay expeditiously connected to the Western cities of Manila and San Juan thru PAREX. This will aid in the traffic decongestion of R-10, EDSA and C-5 by providing connectivity among toll roads and freeways of Metro Manila, thereby diverting traffic volume to alternative routes. Ultimately, this contributes to the overall efficiency of the country’s road transport system.

But what makes PAREX a brilliant project, aside from bypassing right-of-way issues, is because it a “solution within a solution”— decongesting Metro Manila traffic with minimal disruption to existing cities and roads and, at the same time, cleaning up the entire length of Pasig River and alleviating the flood problems of Metro Manila. The dredging and de-clogging of the notorious  Pasig River to remove silt and dirt is not only a massive infrastructure project but a critical environmental undertaking.

I wonder why no one has thought of this brilliant idea before. Simply cleaning the Pasig River entails a huge cost, but cleaning it for a toll-based infrastructure project factors the cost into the construction of the expressway and, in the end, passing it on to all the expressway users. Brilliant idea indeed.

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