San Miguel Corporation has officially completed its P1-billion Tullahan River cleanup project. The project which started in 2020 in cooperation with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to support the government’s flood mitigation efforts and the rehabilitation of the Manila Bay.
SMC President and CEO Ramon S. Ang said that on its last day of operations at the Tullahan River, SMC’s cleanup teams extracted 1,342 tons of solid wastes. This brings the total for the more-than-two-year run of the project to 1.12 million tons of wastes removed.
“We are happy to report that in just a little over two years, we’ve accomplished our primary objectives: to remove accumulated silt and solid wastes from the river bed, as well as deepen and widen it to increase its water holding capacity to reduce severe flooding,” Ang said.
While the Tullahan cleanup project has been completed, Ang emphasized that SMC’s river rehabilitation efforts are far from over. SMC also marked the first year of the P2-billion Pasig River cleanup initiative, another major tributary to the Manila Bay.
The company had already removed some 510,760 metric tons of silt and waste from the polluted Pasig river. This continues to be a dumping site for untreated wastewater and solid wastes coming from multiple cities in Metro Manila.
The Tullahan cleanup project immediately benefits flood-prone cities along the Tullahan river, including Navotas, Malabon, Valenzuela, and Caloocan. Subsequently, it complements the government’s program to install pumping stations and build river walls along the Tullahan.
Following the dredging plan by the DPWH, the Tullahan River rehabilitation effort covered a total of 11 kilometers. This expands from the Manila Bay in Navotas City, to the section near the North Luzon Expressway in Caloocan City.
“I’m proud that our river rehabilitation teams were able breach the one-million ton target for the Tullahan in just over two years, despite pandemic restrictions. We owe it to the support of the DENR and local governments, as well as the dedicated work of our dredging teams. Through their efforts and with the right equipment, we were able to overcome the challenges of completing this important project amidst the pandemic,” Ang said.
Ang also encouraged the stakeholders to build on what the project achieved through a holistic approach. Not just by waste removal, but through efforts to ensure no wastes or untreated water are dumped into the river.
“This will entail a solid waste and wastewater management system that will involve all stakeholders, including local and national government agencies, the private sector, and more importantly, the communities that are located beside or near the river.”
Ang cited SMC’s coastal cleanup efforts in Tanza, Navotas City that has removed a total of 10,799 sacks of garbage, serving as a good example of community involvement in addressing waster problems.
In Batangas, employee and community volunteers have also removed trash equivalent to 5,660 garbage bags from the Calatagan coastal areas.
“This is just a small portion of the garbage that ends up on our bodies of water. The continuing challenge is how to keep plastics and other solid wastes from waterways, rivers, seas, and oceans. We all have a role to play, and I encourage our communities to be active and get involved, as they can contribute a lot to efforts to keep our rivers clean and healthy for good,”Ang said.
“We expect to intensify our operations as we move our dredging equipment to the mouth of the Pasig River leading to the Manila Bay in the coming days,” ang said with regards to the Pasig River cleanup project. “This portion is crucial since based on our hydrographic surveys, easing the bottleneck by deepening this area will help increase the flow of water that leads to the Manila Bay.”
SMC has acquired heavy equipment such as dredgers, backhoes, barges, and dump trucks among others for the river rehabilitation projects. The company also received two high-capacity excavators from Japan shipping giant NYK Line. The Japanese company pledged support to the project via a US$ 1.5-million purchase of additional equipment.
With all its efforts, SMC is confident it can maintain its 50,000-metric-ton monthly target for its Pasig River cleanup.
Cleaned sections of the Pasig River currently measure five to six meters deep. Definitely an increase in flood-carrying capacity, from the two to three meters depths at the start of the project.