ON THE ROAD
Gargantuan numbers and the MMDABy Aida Sevilla Mendoza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
What do you think of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, more widely known as the MMDA? Is it effective? Ineffective? Basically clean? Corrupt? Trying hard? Or overwhelmed by the megapolis it is supposed to manage?
Before you answer, take a look at the gargantuan numbers that MMDA General Manager Corazon T. Jimenez presented when she was the guest speaker at the 82nd General Membership Meeting of the Automobile Association Philippines last Wednesday. Jimenez, who is an undersecretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications, said that traffic and transport management is only one of the seven mandates of the MMDA, which is also tasked with, among others, solid waste disposal and management, flood control and sewerage management.
DENSITY. Consider managing traffic and transportation in a megapolis consisting of 17 cities and towns with a total land area of 636.8 square kilometers, a population of 12 million at night and 15 million in the daytime, where the population density is 18,246 persons per square kilometer compared to the national average of 258 persons per square kilometer and where 3 million persons from the provinces enter and exit daily in addition to the residents of Metro Manila commuting within. Moreover, about 8,000 tons of trash from Metro Manila are thrown into the landfill every single day while 90,000 families are residing as informal settlers along the waterways. In August 2012, 86 percent of Metro Manila was flooded by monsoon rains.
The overpopulation of Metro Manila has created a gargantuan challenge for the MMDA. Jimenez said that per government records, 1.9 million vehicles were registered in Metro Manila, almost 15 percent more than in 2008. Due to the demand for transport services by the growing number of commuters, there is a correspondingly steep increase in the number of public utility vehicles and private vehicles on the road. Traffic congestion is aggravated because major roads in Metro Manila can no longer accommodate the rapidly rising traffic volume, what with outmoded traffic signals, poor infrastructure and the lack of an efficient public transportation system.
P128 BILLION. The MMDA employs 6,825 personnel, fielding most of them daily to supervise traffic on the major thoroughfares. But apparently this is not enough. Jimenez admitted that the traffic problem in Metro Manila costs the country P128 billion annually in lost productivity, illness, wasted fuel and vehicle maintenance. In the first semester of 2012, from January to June, 40,333 traffic accidents were reported in Metro Manila, resulting in P316.5 million worth of damage to property, 204 fatalities and 8,224 persons injured.
To make traffic and the roads in Metro Manila more orderly and safer, Jimenez said that the MMDA’s Traffic Discipline Office has installed the Traffic Ticketing System to enhance the enforcement of traffic regulations; Anti-colorum and out-of-line operations to reduce traffic on major roads; the 60 kilometers per hour speed limit on Commonwealth Avenue and Macapagal Boulevard; operations versus illegal parking; the yellow lanes, closed policy and loading and unloading bays for passenger buses; the organized Bus Route to control the dispatch of buses; the promotion of E-Wheels to address the air pollution problem; continuing traffic education for traffic enforcers and more than 100 CCTVs along major roads to monitor traffic and immediately identify the location of traffic accidents.
MERIT BADGES. Jimenez revealed that high-definition cameras have been posted along Edsa to monitor traffic flow in real time. To counteract the temptation of corruption among MMDA personnel in the field, the MMDA has established a merit system whereby those who earn six merit badges are given a P50,000 cash reward. Ironically enough, Jimenez said, the dirtiest, most air-polluted area in Metro Manila is the Guadalupe, Makati, where the MMDA head office is located. This is due to the many buses, jeepneys, taxicabs and other vehicles waiting or parked there.
Whether or not you think that the MMDA, as chaired by lawyer Francis Tolentino and managed by Jimenez, is coping adequately with the gargantuan numbers of Metro Manila, here is some good news from her: Starting in July, provincial buses will no longer enter Metro Manila. The MMDA is setting up an Integrated Terminal System for provincial buses with the North Terminal at Trinoma, Balintawak, and two South Terminals, one at the FTI (Food Terminal Institute) in Taguig and another at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City. The Integrated Terminal System should reduce traffic volume somewhat even after the schools reopen in June and cause hundreds of thousands more vehicles to once again hit the road.
The MMDA hotline is 136.