$2-B solution to Manila’s floods by SMC

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  • Conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) is planning to propose to the Duterte administration a $2-billion program to build a flood  mitigation system with a waste-to-energy component for Metro Manila.

    On the sidelines of the listing of Eagle Cement Corp. on Monday, SMC president Ramon S. Ang told reporters the metropolis was prone to flooding because Laguna de Bay, which used to be an effective natural catch basin for excess rainwater, was now all clogged up.

    “There should be a spillway which will allow water from Laguna de Bay to flow to Manila Bay,” Ang said. The spillway should have a diameter of 14 meters (46 feet), he said, adding such a system would prevent the recurrence of the massive flooding brought about by Tropical Storm Ondoy in 2009.

    “The government long knows about this solution. That’s the most important flood control project and not just dredging (of waterways),” Ang said. “Once all the trash is taken out, Metro Manila will be flood-free.”

    In return for building this flood control system, Ang said SMC would ask for the right to “use the materials.” The trash collected could be used to generate power, he said.

    Ang said SMC already has a prospective technical partner for the project, which he declined to name. The unsolicited proposal, if the government decides to give it a go, will still be subject to a Swiss challenge.

    Ang said it’s best for the government to continue bidding out projects to the private sector instead of relying on government-to-government infrastructure deals. This is amid government economic managers’ signal of veering away from public-private partnership (PPP) deals in favor of official development assistance (ODA)-funded projects.

    Ang also said resorting to borrowings would “destroy the balance sheet of the government” and jack up interest rates in the country. (D. DUMLAO-ABADILLA, Inq.)

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