Solve Pasig River problems before reopening ferry service
This is a rejoinder to your well-written editorial, “Ferry tale” (4/8/18), regarding the reopening of another ferry service in the Pasig River, which as the editorial correctly said, is an “on-again, off-again” project.
We admire and respect Budget Secretary Ben Diokno who means well in setting up a so-called Pasig River Ferry Convergence Program. Arguably, building additional bridges across the river is needed to ease the traffic problem in the metro; and also resurrect once again a ferry service, which to our mind, with due respect to Diokno, cannot succeed unless the problems that have not been addressed with diligence by previous organizers are solved.
The stench is still there (even worse today), the debris underwater are still intact, the informal settlers on the riverbanks have multiplied, more factories have sprouted dumping more toxic effluents, people still dump filth and garbage, the waters are unfit for any organism to survive — Pasig is “the deadest river in the world.”
When we first exposed this despoliation in the Sixth Congress more than 50 years ago and admonished the government that it is a “dying river,” nobody listened.
Grandiose plans are in the offing. Why don’t we do it one by one, starting with the resumption of a ferry service and clearing the way: dredge the river from end to end, “oxygenate” the water using modern equipment which are available, relocate the informal settlers away from the riverbanks, and constitute a task force to enforce antipollution laws with vigor and without fear or favor. Lesser expense and more “doable” than 12 bridges that can come later.
Let’s build a mansion without forgetting the foundation or that mansion shall crumble like a house of cards. With filthy and smelly water, thousands of shanties on the banks, floating garbage and debris-filled waterways … like the ferry of yesterday, the ferry today shall also sink.
EDDIE ILARDE, Makati City
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