State agencies need to improve coordination and fast-track projects in the transportation sector to meet medium-term targets by 2016, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said that while the quality of national roads and bridges significantly improved since 2010, the indicators as reported in the recently released Socioeconomic Report (SER: 2010-2012) showed that the actual results were slightly below the target set. Ports and airports also had mixed results in terms of passenger volume growth.
“Implementing agencies need to double their efforts,” said Balisacan, who is also Neda director general.
According to the SER, while the Philippines had so far paved 78.87 percent of the 31,242 kilometers of roads as of 2011, this was still slightly below the target of 79 percent. Also, the percentage of length of permanent bridges on national arterial roads had gone up to 94.63 percent (out of 330,089 lineal meters), but this was still below the 95-percent target for 2011.
The SER assessed the first two years of the Aquino administration in relation to the targets and strategies set in the Philippine Development Plan for 2010-2016.
State agencies must also adopt the proposed National Transport Policy (NTP), Balisacan said, to bring about a more integrated transport network and centralized collection, monitoring and evaluation of needed information and statistics to track the development of the subsector.
The NTP is a comprehensive, long-term policy framework meant to guide the transport sector in attaining targets and ensure that government decisions are predictable and consistent. It is also meant to promote accountability among implementing agencies.
A draft executive order on “Adopting a Policy Framework that Sets the Direction of, and Parameters for, the Development and Regulation of the Transportation System in the Philippines” is currently being reviewed.
On the water transport subsector, the SER showed that the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) constructed and rehabilitated passenger terminal buildings (PTBs) in selected ports nationwide, improving seating capacity by 1,166 seats in 2011. This was 126.05 percent over the year’s target.
“However, partly due to the economic downturn and competing transport modes like air transport, the expected passenger volume in PPA ports for 2011 did not materialize, leading to the subsector’s recorded negative performance,” Balisacan explained.
On the air transport subsector, the SER said it had a generally good performance in 2011 due to the expansion of both airport facilities and air services, and the introduction of low-cost fares by airlines and cheaper tourist destinations.
Except for Clark International Airport (CIA), all major gateways exceeded their 2011 targets in terms of increasing the annual international and domestic passenger traffic, according to the SER.
Airports under the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) collectively increased passenger volume by 129.55 percent; Mactan-Cebu International Airport by 295.75 percent; and Ninoy Aquino International Airport by 207.93 percent, despite the current congestion on its runway.
In the rail transport subsector, the LRT Lines 1 and 2 in Metro Manila were not able to meet the 2011 target for the actual increase in the consolidated passenger volume.
With these, Balisacan said, the government will undertake several planned activities to improve the state of the sector.
“Prospects for the roads and bridges subsector will also involve public-private partnership programs to augment regular budget allocation,” he said.
Several capacity expansion programs are planned for existing transport infrastructure facilities across all modes. For instance, the Capacity Expansion program for the MRT 3 will be pursued to help ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila.
Also, the completion of the Roll-On/Roll-Off (RoRo) Spine Project will provide quality and adequate multimodal transport services through a combination of quality highway systems and modern, fast and safe RoRo ferry services with matching terminal facilities.
For the air transport subsector, decongestion efforts at Naia will involve airline time slotting, in coordination with CAAP, Civil Aeronautics Board, and local carriers, to lessen runway occupancy time.—Riza T. Olchondra