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Is DOTC hopeless?

The latest big news from DOTC is that they are asking for bids to help them shortlist consultants to undertake a study that will update their transport modernization plan for Metro Manila. That sounds great until you realize that it is just another study to update a previous study that most likely gathered dust in some DOTC cabinet.

Honestly… if they had such a transport modernization plan all these years, how come our transport situation in Metro Manila is absolutely primitive and chaotic? What guarantee do we have that they won’t ignore this new plan again after spending the P41 million they plan to spend on this one?

In DOTC’s own estimate, we lost P137 billion in 2011 alone due to the daily congestion and unruly road works. Of course we all know too well from daily personal experience about the economic damage of DOTC’s continued failure to do its job. I doubt that another study will improve DOTC’s performance.

This is precisely my beef with past DOTC secretaries and it seems with the current one as well. They indulge the penchant of the DOTC bureaucracy to hire consultants to prepare studies upon studies… constantly updating but doing nothing about implementation. It is easy to believe there is a mafia of consultants working with the bureaucrats earning all that money churning out studies that are merely rehash of old studies.

Updating the original 1996 blueprint to integrate transport planning in the provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan most likely will not require all that brainpower because most of the solutions are obvious and have been discussed at length. There is just no political will to implement tough decisions, like decreasing the number of buses on EDSA, for example.

I think they should just assign the UP College of Engineering to do their studies. DOTC should busy itself with implementation. That’s how to honor and respect the taxpayers who bleed hard earned money to finance that apparently useless bureaucracy.

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What DOTC needs is a strong bias for action. It has to get its major infra projects going. Delays are being experienced in the implementation of its major projects even if they and the PPP Center report that they have “rolled out” the projects.

DOTC-attached agencies like the LTO also can’t get their operations right. Linda Jumilla of ABS-CBN News was complaining on Twitter that LTO is unable to give car registrants the sticker and plates upon registration. This had been a long running problem at LTO and I am sure it does not take rocket science to solve it.

Still at LTO, there is even danger that its computerized records will go up in a puff. They haven’t paid their service provider for quite a bit of time now because of a contract dispute. They now owe billions of pesos to this service provider which could well cause the system to deteriorate as their plan to get a new provider is hopelessly delayed.

 DOTC has failed to bid out their so called modernized and integrated computer system they have been talking about for quite a long time too. We are in danger of going back to the mano-mano system where the corrupt officials and their criminal conspirators among the carnap gangs thrive. I guess the DOTC guys are still busy studying how to launch the new computer system.

I think it is time to change the name of DOTC. They ought to drop the “C” because DOTC no longer has anything to do with Communications. They are supposed to focus on Transportation.

But it would be unfair to call it DOT because that will confuse it with DOT, the tourism department. DOT is a functioning agency delivering visible and measurable results, so unlike DOTC. Maybe it should be called DOTS for Department of Transportation Studies because that is all they do. That will also provide a daily reminder for its officials not to complicate their lives. All they have to do is connect the dots and deliver something… anything… that’s useful to the taxpayers.

 

Conflict of interest?

DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya is also wrong to ban San Miguel and JG Summit from bidding for the rehabilitation and management of the Mactan International Airport in Cebu. Abaya said the ban is justified because of conflict of interest on the part of the parent companies of Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific.

That is very theoretical as befits a studious bureaucracy. It also does not make sense. There are very few local conglomerates that can afford to finance and manage such a major project. Knocking off these two will leave the field quite open to just a few. Unless the intention is to deliver the projects to Ayala, a favorite of this administration which is not that bad given that it is a performer.

The other thing to consider is the fact that San Miguel is already managing the airport in Caticlan and there has been no report of conflict of interest rearing its ugly head. The delay in really developing that airport to take in larger aircraft is not even the fault of San Miguel but of government which has yet to decide what it wants to do there.

Hopefully, this kind of thinking on the part of Abaya doesn’t mean he also does not want San Miguel to put up a brand new modern international airport for Manila. The airport, said to be sited either in Cavite or Bulacan, is very much needed given the inadequacy of NAIA and the incompetence of its management.

We need to get that San Miguel airport going to redeem our national honor. NAIA has caused a shameful deterioration of our image as a country with one of the worst airports in the world. The sad thing about that is it is all true. We cannot even protest when NAIA is called uncivilized.

Ramon Ang told me that they are seeking a reconsideration of the DOTC ban for San Miguel to bid in Cebu. RSA also told me that he is just waiting for the last few hectares of land in his proposed airport site to be bought and he will present his plans to P-Noy.

But RSA insisted he will still deliver the new airport by 2016 and P-Noy can still inaugurate it as President. Given that DOTC may not be able to deliver any of their big projects by then, I wouldn’t be surprised if they throw hindrances to the project just so RSA doesn’t prove what a bunch of do-nothing incompetents they all are.

 

Bananas

The big typhoon that hit Mindanao late last year may have dealt a death blow to the business of some of our banana planters affecting some 30,000 hectares. I heard that replanting may not be feasible because the flood waters served to spread a deadly soil fungus that attacks banana plants.

Now they have to think of some other crops to replace the bananas because there seems to be no antidote to this deadly fungus. The affected farmers should be actively helped by the Department of Agriculture. Maybe they can plant corn or pineapple or some other high value crops that could approximate the export potential of bananas.

That would be a tough challenge that should be met with a sense of urgency.

 

Tech talk

Jose Villaescusa sent this one.

Microsoft managed to create a program that enables communication with those in the after life. Bill Gates decided to test it by talking to Steve Jobs.

BILL: How is heaven Steve?

STEVE: Great, just great...it’s just that there are no walls or fences over here.

BILL: And so?

STEVE: So we have no need for Windows or Gates here, hahaha...

BILL: Hmm, that’s ok... but I heard a rumor.

STEVE: What rumor?

BILL: That thanks to Eve, Apple is banned in heaven, hehehe!

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is bchanco@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

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