SAN MIGUEL Corp. (SMC) has committed anew to build a “safe, reliable and sustainable” Pasig River Expressway (PAREX), which it described as a crucial infrastructure for the country’s recovery from the pandemic.

Ramon S. Ang, SMC president and chief executive officer, said the 19.37-kilometer road that will connect eastern and western Metro Manila would complement the conglomerate’s P2-billion, five-year rehabilitation effort for the tributary.

“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,” he said.

PAREX, which will span from Rizal province to Manila City, is complemented by SMC’s rehabilitation plan that started in July last year to mitigate its impact on 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,” Mr. Ang said.

SMC called PAREX as a hybrid infrastructure that was designed with green architecture principles. The road can be used by motorists, public transport, cyclists, and pedestrians “to further enhance accessibility and traffic decongestion, while encouraging multiple modes of transportation.”

Mr. Ang said Felino “Jun” Palafox, Jr. through his firm Palafox Associates had been signed on to help with the project’s sustainable design.

SMC said Mr. Palafox, a known urban planner and green architect, as sharing the vision of the company and Mr. Ang for sustainable infrastructure.

It quoted Mr. Palafox as saying: “For many decades, we have been emphasizing green architecture and green urbanism in our projects in the Philippines and abroad. For the PAREX project, our approach will be the same, we are designing not just infrastructure, but an urban landscape. We are promoting sustainability through architecture, with a holistic vision.”

Mr. Ang said if done right and in line with sustainability and green architecture principles, 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,” he said.

Mr. Ang also disclosed plans to put up a Bus Rapid Transit on PAREX and the existing Skyway system, which will interconnect, completing the north-to-south and east-to-west connection throughout Metro Manila.

The said move would allow “faster, more reliable, safer, comfortable and affordable commutes” while cutting time spent on traffic that worsens pollution.

Mr. Ang also said that SMC’s Pasig River clean-up initiative had yielded some 295,260 metric tons of silt and solid waste since it started in mid-2021.

SMC keeps a daily output target 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.

Mr. Ang said the 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.

“Rehabilitating the river does not only involve dredging and removing visible wastes especially plastics that eventually go to the sea. It is only part of the solution. What is needed is more of a holistic approach, which will involve building a sewage system that would prevent it from being the dumping area of industrial and solid wastes,” he said.