CITY OF SAN FERNANDO --- The Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (PamCham) has expressed concern over the construction of a new shopping center in Barangay Telebastagan in this city.

During a meeting on Tuesday with city government officials, SM executives and stakeholders, PamCham Chairman Emeritus Levy P. Laus stressed that the project which is now rising may worsen the current traffic situation being experienced in San Fernando.

It can be noted that according to the findings of the local government, Telebastagan is the primary congested area in the city, followed by barangays Baliti, Sindalan, San Agustin, Dolores, and Jose Abad Santos Avenue.

“We are worried and there’s a lot of apprehension on our part that the construction of SM City Telebastagan could actually create unprecedented traffic problem that will impact heavily on the lives of the people of San Fernando as well as Angeles City,” he said.

Another factor being considered by the chamber is that the medium-sized mall---not in the likes of the big SM Aura---is located along MacArthur Highway at the boundary of the City of San Fernando and Angeles City, near major traffic generators and highly populated areas like industrial parks, residential areas and subdivisions, as well as schools and universities.

The chairman said that once operational, the mall might cause “monstrous traffic situations” like that of Metro Manila.

“As far as the PamCham is concerned, we would like to request our city mayor together with the City Engineering Office to take a very serious look, and study this project carefully. We just hope we will find a solution where everyone, including the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will get to agree,” he pointed out.

‘Mall will not aggravate traffic’

For his part, SM Regional Operations Manager Engineer Junias Eusebio said that the mall management assures that the new shopping hub will not aggravate the traffic situation and cause gridlocks, as per the findings of the UP National Center for Transportation Studies Foundation, Inc. (UPNCTSFI).

“We respect the opinion of PamCham, that is why we presented and we have furnished the chamber a copy of the impact assessment, not from our internal standpoint, but by a third party which is the UPNCTSFI---an expert---which concluded that it is manageable with or without development for over 10 years,” he explained.

“Furthermore, we also continue to consult the local government and the DPWH. We even go the extra mile beyond the minimum compliance and requirements of the National Building Code and the local government,” he added.

City of San Fernando Mayor Edwin Santiago, on the other hand, noted that “We should have proper planning and regulation. We have should place short-term, urgent medium-term, and long-range solutions as early as possible. Because if we want the city to be sustainable, we have to work together,” he said.

The new shopping center is already in its first stage of construction and is expected to be completed by next year.

It will be the city’s third SM mall after SM City Pampanga along Jose Abad Santos Avenue and SM City San Fernando Downtown at the Poblacion area.