By Robert B. Roque, Jr.
For someone who is not running for president next year, San Miguel Corp. President Ramon S. Ang has undoubtedly been working to solve many of our long-drawn woes.
If you live up north of the metropolitan capital — the CAMANAVA (Caloocan-Malabon-Navotas-Valenzuela) area and Quezon City — and drive to work in the southern district of Metro Manila every day, I need not explain what wonder SMC in the time of RSA has done for you. Heck! You must have teared up cruising along the entire stretch of Skyway Stage 3 from Makati to Balintawak in just 15 minutes and savoring extra hours with the family.
Starting February, many motorists will have to bleed to shave off something like P110-P247 one-way along that easy highway. However, it is still an alternative solution to the turtle race along EDSA. It’s a game-changer that gives the country’s post-pandemic recovery a major boost.
With just four lanes opened out of the seven-lane elevated expressway, already 71,000 vehicles per day have been rerouted from EDSA, markedly improving average speed on the 52-kilometer highway, according to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority. Also, before this year ends, the Skyway will be extended farther south to Susana Heights, Muntinlupa.
In his own words, RSA bids to “unlock the true potential of our provinces” through the seamless linking of the north and south, whereby trade, travel, and transport would be faster and conveniently uninterrupted by the monstrous traffic that has held most of us hostage for hours on end in Metro Manila.
And while the completion of this high-speed north-south connector project was being celebrated by Mr. Ang with President Duterte and his Cabinet last week, SMC was already breaking new ground for its other high-impact infrastructure project known as the east-west link.
Like the Skyway, the Pasig River Expressway (PAREx) project is a 19.4-kilometer, six-lane elevated expressway along the Pasig River banks that will connect R-10 in Manila, EDSA, and C5. Again, this would be a traffic miracle-worker that would decongest Rizal, Cainta, and Marikina City in the east while providing faster alternative access to the business districts of Makati, Ortigas, and Bonifacio Global City.
RSA is confident the PAREx can be completed by 2023.
Then, let’s not forget that SMC is also building the New Manila International Airport in Bulacan, the single-largest investment ever in the country at P740 billion.
Work has been ongoing, too, on this project, which Mr. Ang envisions as a sustainable solution to decongesting air traffic congestion in the Philippines. According to a presser, the opening date for this massive airport project with four-parallel runways and modern, world-class facilities is 2025, with two major expressways connecting to the airport opening by 2023.
In these pandemic times, I am just wowed by such problem-solving projects and how they help make us see past the dreariness of the present. It’s worth looking through the eyes of a visionary like Mr. Ang and I guess that’s why there are people who try and fail yet try again to woo him into politics and leading the nation.
So, again, why is he not running for president?
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