Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto backed a Department of Budget and Management (DBM)-led rehabilitation and privatization plan for the Pasig River ferry, saying “it is the best chance to rescue the service from the inaction of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).”
“I have always said that because the ferry has been sunk by DOTr’s disinterest, other agencies should bail it out. And I am glad that Secretary Diokno has put himself on the captain’s seat,” Recto said.
The veteran legislator cited two reasons why Diokno is the best person to lead the revival of a ferry service along “an underutilized nautical highway which can tremendously ease land traffic in Metro Manila.”
“One, DBM has the money. Diokno is the guardian of the coffers. Two, he is the only Cabinet man whose office is literally beside the Pasig River. He can see and smell the river from his office. The solution to Manila’s traffic is outside his window,” the seasoned lawmaker said.
The senator from Batangas said he was hopeful that under Diokno, “this maritime MRT – or Manila River Transport – will not suffer the same fate as the DOTr-run Metro Rail Transit.”
He reiterated his observation that the cost of reviving Pasig River as “a people-mover is less compared to the expensive land-based solutions like trains and elevated expressways.”
The cost of reviving Pasig River as “a people-mover is less compared to the expensive land-based solutions like trains and elevated expressways.”
Pasig River, he said, “is a nautical highway that is wider than the widest road.”
“It is toll-free. It is ready to use. It is not beset by right-of-way issues. Unlike roads, its rehabilitation will not cause traffic jams,” Recto said.
“There is no need to import trains and wait years for their delivery because the boats can be procured locally, from Cavite, Batangas, Bataan, and Cebu, where there is a thriving shipbuilding industry,” he added.
Diokno recently led officials from 30 government agencies on an inspection tour of the Pasig River ferry, route and stations.
The DBM chief said they are looking at a December 2018 soft opening of a rehabilitated and privatized ferry service, which would have 24 air-conditioned boats that would load and unload 19.8 million passengers annually along 29 newly-refurbished stations from Manila to Marikina.