SMC’s Pasig, Tullahan River rehab initiatives get a boost from Japanese shipping giant

SMC’s Pasig, Tullahan River rehab initiatives get a boost from Japanese shipping giant

MANILA — Shipping and logistics company NYK Line of Japan has joined San Miguel Corporation (SMC) in its multi-billion initiative to rehabilitate the Pasig and Tullahan-Tinajeros River systems, and undo years of toxic and waste contamination that has made these waterways among the world’s biggest contributors to ocean pollution.

NYK will donate $1.5 million over a five-year period to buy additional equipment needed for the project.

The donation was formalized during a virtual ceremony attended by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu, NYK Line president Hitoshi Nagasawa and SMC president Ramon S. Ang.

Ang thanked Nagasawa for the support which he described as both “unexpected and meaningful”, as it was the Japanese firm’s way of showing its appreciation for the country of origin of many of its seafarers.

SMC and NYK have had no previous professional dealings, and it was the first time that Ang and Nagasawa had met.

“I truly admire Mr. Nagasawa-san. NYK reached out to us, after reading about our Pasig River and Tullahan river rehabilitation efforts. They said they wanted to do something for their Filipino seafarers, to show their appreciation for their home country. So after a meeting where they asked to hear more about our river rehabilitation projects, they decided they wanted to support it, on behalf of their Filipinos crews,” SMC president Ramon S. Ang related.

“This kind gesture from one of Japan’s major companies shows that they care about their Filipino workforce and the environment. This is something we truly appreciate. It is also a recognition of the importance of the task we’ve set for ourselves – to continue the clean-up and rehabilitation of our rivers, to try and reverse the decades of pollution that they’ve suffered. This way, we can safeguard lives and protect livelihoods from flooding, and move closer to a better, more livable Metro Manila,” he added.

For his part, NYK President Nagasawa said: “As a global shipping and logistics company, protecting the marine environment is part of our DNA and something that we treat very seriously. ESG is the foundation for the NYK Group’s aspiration to become a sustainable business entity, and we think that the project we are about to join is exactly in line with our future goals.”

NYK’s donation will be coursed through the San Miguel Foundation and will go towards the acquisition of additional equipment to be used for targeted river dredging and clean-up operations.

NYK is one of Japan’s largest shipping firms, with operations in liner trade, air cargo transportation, logistics, and bulk shipping, as well as real estate. Some 70% of its seafarers are Filipino.

SMC is spending P1 billion for the clean-up of the 27-km. Tullahan-Tinajeros river. Since June 2020, the company’s dredging teams have already removed 533,498 metric tons of silt and solid waste from an 11-kilometer stretch spanning the river’s sections in Navotas, at the mouth of Manila Bay, to Malabon, and Valenzuela.

“Our goal is to deepen and, where necessary, widen the Tullahan River, so it can take in more excess water coming from the La Mesa Dam, especially during heavy rainfall, and help minimize and mitigate flooding in Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela–all known to be flood prone areas,” Ang said.

Meanwhile, it has committed P2 billion for its Pasig River rehabilitation effort, which officially began July of this year. It has already removed over 100,000 tons of waste from its two pilot areas, along Pandacan, and near the Malacanang Palace, in Manila.

Ang said that the goal of the Pasig River project is to remove up to 3 million tons of silt and solid waste from the river, so it can channel more floodwaters and alleviate flooding not only in Metro Manila, including Marikina, but also divert excess water from the heavily-silted Laguna Lake, which affects surrounding Laguna provinces.

For his part, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu earlier lauded the initiatives, as they both support the larger Manila Bay Rehabilitation program. Both the Tullahan and Pasig Rivers are major tributaries to the Manila Bay.

Both are also included in the list of top 10 list top plastic-emitting rivers responsible for the world’s ocean plastics, according to a report by a respected research website, http://www.ourworldindata.org. Pasig River was ranked number 1 on the list. (ai/mtvn)

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