DESPITE the global health crisis, San Miguel Corporation’s P1-billion initiative to dredge the Tullahan-Tinajeros river system has yielded 2,150 truckloads of silt and garbage as of August 25.
The initiative, part of a wide-ranging plan to address flooding in Bulacan and many parts of Central Luzon, was launched in February together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR but only fully commenced in June after the enhanced community quarantine was eased.
In just over two months, SMC has extracted close to 20,000 cubic meters of silt and garbage. That is equivalent to 2,150 truckloads of debris. The corporation thanked the DENR for its commitment to the initiative and for making this possible.
SMC chief perating officer Ramon S. Ang said the company has been removing 600 tons of solid waste on a daily basis that go to disposal sites designated and approved by the DENR.
They are just starting with phase one of the project, covering a 5.25 km. stretch of river system from Navotas to Malabon City. It’s a long way to go, but SMC is fully committed to this long-term project that will benefit so many people and our environment.
Other government units that continue to provide invaluable support to the initiative include the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Interior and Local Government, Metro Manila Development Authority, and the local governments of Malabon and Navotas.
While the project aims to clean Tullahan as part the Manila Bay rehabilitation project, its larger objective is to form part of a much-larger initiative to solve perennial flooding problem in low-lying provinces, including, but not limited to, Bulacan.
The province is where SMC is set to build the country’s largest and most modern world-class international airport, with groundbreaking set for October this year.
SMC committed to the people of Bulacan that it would help solve flooding in their area. Dredging the Tullahan is a major component of its flood mitigation strategies. Essentially, it will clean up and deepen the river system, increasing its capacity to handle heavy rains and allowing for floodwaters to flow more freely and drain into to the Manila Bay.
The Tullahan River is also a spillway for water coming from Angat and Ipo Dams going to the Manila Bay, hence the need to maintain its depth.
The first phase of the dredging is divided into five sectors: Sector 1 from Manila Bay to Tonsuya Bridge; Sector 2 from Tonsuya Bridge to Lambingan Bridge; Sector 3 from Lambingan Bridge to Tinajeros Bridge; Sector 4 from Tinajeros Bridge to Tullahan Bridge, and Sector 5 from Tullahan Bridge up to Potrero.
From these first five sectors alone, SMC expects to dredge a target volume of around one million cubic meters. To hasten dredging operations, SMC acquired larger excavators and a fleet of barges, tugboats, cranes, and dump trucks, specifically for the project.
Ang revealed ccumulated silt and debris as well as illegal structures have reduced the Tullahan River’s depth to only one to two meters in many areas, causing heavy floods in surrounding areas in recent years.
Based on studies by the DPWH, SMC will need to deepen the river by five meters. Some parts have gone to as low as one to two meters. The accumulation of silt and trash that has caused this is also the primary reason for the heavy incidence of floods in low-lying areas beside the river, including Bulacan.
With the help of expert foreign consultants, the company was able to identify the rivers, creeks, tributaries, and bodies of water that are in need of cleaning, dredging, and widening to further address flooding in Bulacan.
With the approval of the national government and the DENR, SMC hopes to further expand the dredging and cleaning programs in many key rivers in Bulacan.
SMC also addressed claims made by groups opposing the airport’s construction that it would “worsen” the flooding situation. On the contrary, it said the airport project and its flood mitigation component will be the long-term and sustainable solution to the perennial flooding in Bulacan.
“It will not make sense for us to build an airport here if we do not address these issues. We will do everything to ensure this huge investment in our country will benefit millions of Filipinos and the country for many generations,” Ang said.
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