Easing Traffic: A Shared Responsibility

Worsening traffic conditions is further exacerbated by poor discipline among drivers and commuters.

It comes as no surprise that Metro Manila, the nation's capital, placed 3rd among cities with the worst traffic in the Southeast Asian Region. This is based on the "Unlocking Cities" study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group. The research’s findings reveal that commuters spend an average of 66 minutes in traffic. The results of this survey only validate previous studies made by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which show that the country loses Php 2.4 Billion annually due to traffic congestion. It appears that traffic will only get worse with year-on-year increases in vehicle sales and ongoing infrastructure works along the country's major roads.

Contrary to the belief of a former member of the Aquino cabinet, traffic is not a sign of progress. It is a result of poor urban planning and backward policies. Today, the general public is paying the price for years of neglect on the improvement of our mass transport systems and major infrastructure. 

Today, the Duterte administration is doing its part by implementing remedial and long-term solutions.It is working towards adding more rail transit systems and developing major infrastructure through its massive and ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program. It is ironic, however, that many of the forward-looking policies being implemented are being met with strong resistance by various groups. As of this writing, a protest is being staged by jeepney operators and drivers against the Jeepney Modernization Program.

The government has been a convenient blaming target for all the traffic woes we are experiencing. Truth be told; however, worsening traffic conditions is further exacerbated by poor discipline among drivers and commuters. Statistics will back up this claim. 

Since 2006, the number of road crash incidents in the country has been on a constant upswing. Based on most recent figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority, the number of road crash fatalities has jumped from 6,869 in 2006 to 10,012 in 2015.

Illegal parking, especially along the country's major thoroughfares, is a problem that seems to have no end. Based on an operation conducted by MMDA against illegally parked vehicles earlier this year, 294 illegally parked vehicles were towed and impounded in a single week. This figure onlycovers the cities of Quezon City, San Juan, Mandaluyong, Makati, Manila,and Pasay.

Given the nature and complexity of the traffic problem in the country, there is a need for ownership and accountability amongst all of us. We all share in the burden that comes with the excruciating daily traffic. More than anything, we must also collectively share in the responsibilities to ease the burden and help improve the terrible traffic conditions in our country.

Times call not only for innovation or regulation, but also for cooperation. Obedience to the law sounds simple but difficult to practice. Sacrifice is commonly heard but hard to do. It’s time we all share in the responsibilities that come along with being commuters, drivers and road users.

We don’t want to get stuck in traffic forever.  There should be no forever in traffic.

About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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