Government has no choice but to tap the full potential of the Pasig River "as a nautical road" which can ease the “terrible congestion” in Metro Manila roads, Sen. Sonny Angara said today.
“I think the first order of business is to make the ferry system financially buoyant again,” Angara, chair of the Senate finance committee, said.
He said next year’s proposed P74 million national government subsidy to the Metro Manila Development Authority for running a ferry along parts of the river’s original 15-kilometer service route “is clearly not enough.“
“We are open to increasing the subsidy if the MMDA can submit a program on where the additional subsidy would be spent," Angara said.
Given Metro Manila’s barely-moving traffic, he scored the lack of attention in optimizing “a maritime highway that is wider than EDSA.”
He said the Department of Budget and Management- proposed Pasig ferry subsidy “for one whole year is what government will spend in just five days in 2020 to subsidize the MRT 3 operations.”
“Yang 74 million pesos na proposed subsidy for 2020, may nakapagsabi na limang kilometro lang ‘yan ng asphalt overlay sa isang lane ng EDSA," Angara said.
At its peak more than a decade ago, 10 airconditioned boats were running along a 15-kilometer, 17-station Manila-Pasig City route.
Angara said to revive the service, a “master plan with yearly expansion, funding and performance targets” is required.
“We can pursue the modernization in annual installments."
In August 2016, the Department of Transportation pegged at P2.65 billion the cost of 20 new 100-passenger vessels, rehabilitating 10 passenger terminals, and annual river dredging. (30)