DIVERSIFIED conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) said that it is targeting to annually remove 600,000 tons of silt and solid waste from Pasig River over the next five years, as it awaits the arrival of two units of dredging equipment.

“Through the years, Pasig River has become narrower and shallower because of accumulated silt and waste. By cleaning and widening it, we will be able to increase its capacity to keep water flowing within its banks especially during heavy rains,” SMC President Ramon S. Ang said in a press release on Monday.

The two new units of dredging equipment are said to be capable of pulling 600,000 tons of silt and garbage out of Pasig River’s waters per year for the next five years, SMC said.

It added that it would be partnering up with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Public Works and Highways, and other concerned government units in extracting 50,000 tons of waste per month from the river.

Mr. Ang said that they were able to identify sections of the river where the depth has been reduced to as little as one meter. According to him, these were the areas which caused widespread flooding.

For the Pasig River to channel flood waters to Manila Bay, it should be at least 10 meters deep, he explained.

SMC said that it plans to begin the river’s clean-up operations by April.

SMC is also undertaking a P1-billion dredging and clean-up initiative in the Tullahan River system, which is seen to benefit flood-prone areas like Malabon and Navotas.

In March 2019, the conglomerate inked a deal with the DENR to implement a comprehensive dredging and clean-up program for the 59.24 kilometer river.

SMC shares in the local bourse were unchanged at P125 apiece on Monday. — Angelica Y. Yang