Let It Rot

Traffic congestion is only one of the serious problems dogging Metro Manila. There are also the illegal settlers, waste management, water supply, land use, heritage conservation and the lack of a long-term development plan where road and transport infrastructure is built in anticipation of increased demand and not when the existing cannot meet the demand. 

So said the President the other day in a speaking engagement where he vented his frustration at Congress' lack of action on his request for emergency powers to act on Metro Manila's traffic congestion.

An engineer generated buzz last week by proposing that EDSA be made one-way northbound and C-5 be made one-way southbound. Engineer Fernando Guevara couldn't detail the specifics of his plan which he claims his group made a study on when interviewed over AM radio news programs.

Prior to this there was the MMDA's experiment with the provincial bus ban which was TROed even before it could be implemented. It instead went ahead with the strict buses on yellow lane policy which created a huge traffic snarl that had commuters and motorists fulminating at the MMDA's penchant for traffic experiments at their expense.

I first wrote about Metro Manila's traffic woes last year and that solution required a one-way system for the network of circumferential and radial roads along with a route rationalization plan which would have commuters traveling on an intermodal point-to-point basis under the principle of perpetual motion.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that EDSA choked with traffic multiplies the problem a hundred fold because most radial roads are spread out its entire length. It is right in the middle of travel within Metro Manila going in all directions - north, south, east and west.

What complicates the problem is the local government units inability to prevent traffic congestion in their respective jurisdictions. This is a result of roads being used as parking areas by residents, the ubiquitous basketball court, police and barangay outposts and the like. The agency's which should be enforcing the law are actually the ones breaking it as well. It's no wonder then that there is anarchy and chaos on the streets. Rather than rule of law, the law of the jungle applies.

The root of the problem began in 1986 with the abolition of the Metro Manila Commission as the central governing authority for the expanded metropolitan atea. During the Marcos administration the city and municipal Mayors were under the control of the Metro Manila Governor in the person of former First Lady Imelda Marcos. The Mayor's powers were limited because it was Marcos who was implementing her vision for what she called the City of Man which was in conjunction with the other post she held as Minister of Human Settlements.

Traffic congestion is only one of the serious problems dogging Metro Manila. There are also the illegal settlers, waste management, water supply, land use, heritage conservation and the lack of a long-term development plan where road and transport infrastructure is built in anticipation of increased demand and not when the existing cannot meet the demand.

It's high time that Congress enact a law that would create a central metropolitan authority for Metro Manila. The major reason for the problems it faces is due to the lack of a central planning authority which coordinates all the construction and rehabilitation of roads. The reality is every Mayor pursues his own agenda resulting in anarchy and chaos on the streets. For example, road concreting and the inordinate amount of time DPWH contractors takes to finish a project is what compounds traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

It doesn't help also that Sen. Grace Poe continues to maintain her intransigence on the emergency powers requested by the President at the start of his term. Three years have passed and the lady Senator continues to insist that it is DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade's fault that she continues to hold back on the grant due to his failure to present a comprehensive plan to alleviate Metro Manila's traffic woes.

While our appointed and elected officials continue to bicker, our suffering from the daily commute or drive, continues. It now takes an average of two hours to get to one point to another within the Metro. Residents are weary each day from the stress of driving or commuting. Everyone suffers from a combination of having to get up early enough to beat traffic only for the same to be their worst enemy again at the end of the day because of the stress and weariness from battling it on the way home.

The simple solutions are staring at our government officials in the face. The only problem is the lack of political will to apply it along with the strict enforcement of traffic rules and regulations.
Perhaps the only time the suffering will be alleviated is when the MRT-7 and the Metro Manila Subway is completed. Until then Metro Manila's commuters and motorists will just have to suffer while government officials exchange tirades in media.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TheLOBBYiST.
About the Author
RG is a seasoned international trade and sales and marketing professional who also dabbles in writing. He was a contributor to Business World in the mid-90s and is also a tech geek.
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