No justification for Pasig River Expressway (PAREX), project driven more by profit than by public good

The Pasig River Expressway has broken ground and the project has begun in earnest even with the growing opposition to it. The initial furor was over the design that the whole river would be covered by the length of the expressway which runs from east to west from Manila Bay to Laguna De Bay. As it turns out, the design was for the expressway to be built on the embankment though it wasn’t specified which side it would be on. Then another controversy broke out when San Miguel claimed Architect Jun Palafox was the designer. As it turns out, the two parties were reportedly only engaged in discussions and no formal engagement has been signed.

[Felino “Jun”] Palafox said he has not signed any contract to become a project consultant, explaining he was approached by Ang last May to “introduce green architectural and urban features” to the PAREx, whose detailed engineering studies were still underway.

“I don’t know why there’s so much toxic anger against me. I have not signed any contract. I told them, let me see the plans,” he told the Inquirer on Monday, referring to his talks with SMC.

Whatever the real score is between the two, the fact is the quality of life has deteriorated in the National Capital Region (NCR) because of the junking of the Metro Manila Development Plan (finalized in 1976) after Ferdinand Marcos was ousted. Palafox was part of the team which developed the plan funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The lack of a central development plan for the Metropolitan Manila area has led to the anarchy and chaos we have today. It has also resulted in the loss of heritage structures due to uncontrolled real estate development. The character of major cities throughout the world is defined by heritage structures. We have wiped out most of that character and we can’t bring them back. The Metro Manila Development Plan envisioned nine light rail lines ringing it allowing the fast and efficient movement of commuters. What we got instead are vehicle-centric roads which do not benefit the workforce.

There is no aesthetic in Metro Manila. What we see is the result of poor or the lack of urban planning. The Skyway system is ill-conceived is only saved by the rehabilitation and upgrade of the existing PNR North-South Line from Malolos to Calamba. The common station for the light rail line will provide relief but commuting to and from the interior cities of Metro Manila is still a pain because of the absence of a multi-modal point-to-point transport network.

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We don’t need the Pasig River Expressway. What we need is a reliable river ferry system connected to a multi-modal point-to-point transport system. Laguna De Bay should be cleared of fishpens and opened up to transport to take the congestion off the Manila East Road which is now connected to C-6. San Miguel CEO Ramon S. Ang (RSA) can do all the PR he wants but the banks of the Pasig River are congested by communities. We don’t need an expressway. What we need is to use the river as an alternative dedicated transport system with ferries on a fixed-time schedule. The profit motive is always on RSA’s mind. He surely has come a long way from his office at the Alegria building on Pasong Tamo. There is no justification for PAREX. Period.

6 Replies to “No justification for Pasig River Expressway (PAREX), project driven more by profit than by public good”

      1. But in order to do that is give them a long term solution to their poverty so that they could no longer migrate to Metro Manila and have difficulties on finding a job or better economic opportunities here and instead their provinces needs an economic development there like a true agrarian reform schemes and foreign investments on every provinces.

  1. Before the Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) project became known to a lot of people, SMC’s press release was that the clean up drive of the Pasig river was really voluntary, in the service of the community and country and that they were doing that at no cost to the government. ‘Till we know now the reason behind it. Once PAREX becomes operational and begin to collect toll payments, it’s payback time. Behind that seemingly act of generosity is nothing but all about profit. Instead of a Mass Transport System, the project reminds us of the “Skyway projects” which favors mostly car owners.

  2. What I discern from reading all the articles against Parex is this: While an expressway is not an ideal solution, outmoded and antiquated as cited by the cons, they do not dismiss that Parex by vitrue of being the 1st East-West expressway in Manila will help in decongesting traffic. As the 1st, Parex and Mr. Ang will achieve the maximum effect an East-West expressway can bring in whatever standard it is measured. While for the cons, this is the only positive virtue of Parex, it is the only point that, for me, Mr. Ang really has to make. Because the alternative the cons give have no effect at all in whatsoever scenario – no expressway. Unless they want to finance their solutions ad idem Mr. Ang.

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