Shovel up your acts
The bad news is that traffic in Metro Manila will get much worse, before we can even start to entertain a little hope for just a glimmer of a chance that it can finally improve a little.
Sorry—there is no good news as yet!
That is because our beloved DOTr still has one and only solution to the horrendous traffic in the metropolis: The grant of emergency powers to the administration.
Under the motor-biking Duterte Harley, the Department of Transportation bugged Congress for the extraordinary powers, because these would be the only way for the administration, purportedly, to do transport projects a lot faster.
You so know—so that they could go around the rules on the awarding of government contracts!
Anyway, the projects would all form part of what the administration proclaimed as the “golden age of infrastructure” in this country. It wanted to spend some P9 trillion to update our transportation systems, for instance, by at least a hundred years.
The economic team of Duterte Harley also crowed that the projects would start next year—promise. Hmmm.
Still, the guys down here in my barangay would prefer to see some actual pick and shovel works, as proof that the administration boys could get their acts together.
According to the website Numbeo, which collated data on cost of living, crime rate and pollution, the traffic in Metro Manila ranked 10th worst in the world.
Moreover, MMDA officer-in-charge Thomas Orbos admitted that the traffic would become even more horrendous. Uh-oh!
For one, the road network in the metropolis could not catch up with the increase in the number of vehicle registration in Metro Manila and its surrounding provinces, rising by the tens of thousands every year.
And what would be the big idea behind the P9-trillion “golden age of infrastructure?” Well, the economic team of Duterte Harley would want to develop satellite cities around the urban areas.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, who used to be the investment adviser of the Sultan of Brunei, one of the richest men in the world, theorized that the projects should be able to connect the “outlying areas” with the “consuming areas.”
In short, decongestion!
That was actually also big idea behind the Luzon expressway systems. When the 84-kilometer toll way called NLEx, for instance, was interconnected with another toll way called SCTEx, it somehow made road travel in broad parts of central Luzon rather fast and pleasant. Even during the holidays!
Manila North Tollway Corp. operated the system, and it even compiled its own data to predict the traffic volume, something we could hardly say about the MMDA or the DPWH.
About a year ago, anyway, the system recorded traffic volume of 180,000 vehicles a day on the average. It already moved up to about 200,000 vehicles after about a year, or a hefty increase of 11 percent. The data thus would show that, in no time at all, the volume in the system could easily double.
Based on its data, MNTC also discovered that traffic always reached its heaviest on Dec. 23 in the past years for an increase of more than 20 percent.
The thing was that the system could still cope with the drastic increase.
For the sake of our beloved MMDA and DPWH, the company actually had to prepare for the spike in holiday traffic, for instance, by deploying more manpower such as ambulant tellers, traffic personnel and patrol crews.
MNTC of course maintained the expressway regularly, not to mention the enhancements called CCTV and such, something strange to us here in Metro Manila.
When the company connected the SCTEx with NLEx, which would mean a hefty increase in volume, it spent about P5 billion to widen the portion between Sta. Rita and San Fernando in Pampanga.
Another survey, done from May 2015 to October 2016, showed that users of the system actually noted measurable benefits in their businesses, such as savings on fuel consumption, vehicle repairs, and even cargo handling.
This is interesting: The system actually got the highest “satisfaction rating” from its business customers during the peak holiday season when traffic in Metro Manila was always hell.
How come that was not surprising?
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