DOTC chief on traffic mess: It’s not fatal

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - It may be ruining the day for thousands daily, but at least it’s “not fatal,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said of Metro Manila’s traffic mess.

Abaya made the remarks in an interview last Monday with ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol.

“Hindi naman siguro fatal iyan,” he said, but quickly clarified that what he meant was traffic was “not burdensome to the daily lives of the people.”

At Malacañang yesterday, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda appealed for patience and assured the public the government is seriously addressing the matter.

“The traffic situation is an issue that we continue to address. There have been a number of ongoing infrastructure projects and all of us are affected by it and we have asked the public for their understanding and patience,” Lacierda said.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte made the same appeal over the weekend. She also urged motorists and commuters to plan their trips so they can have better chances of getting to their destination on time.

Last Aug. 14, a payday Friday, monstrous traffic jams were reported on most major roads in Metro Manila especially along Andrews Avenue, Airport Road and Sucat Road – vital arteries leading to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s four terminals. Hundreds missed their flights that day.

She said airport authorities have been advising the public to consider the heavy traffic when making trips to and from the airport.

Valte said the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority is deploying more traffic enforcers to critical areas.

She also expressed hope that operators of the South Luzon Expressway would deploy more toll collectors to ease buildup of vehicles at the toll gates.

Immediate action

For Sen. Francis Escudero, the government needs to take immediate and drastic action to address the problem, including firing concerned officials and appointing competent people.

Escudero said the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has clearly failed in fulfilling almost all of its responsibilities under the current administration.

He cited the massive problems of the MRT-3, which have inconvenienced thousands of commuters daily due to constant glitches in its operations.

Escudero said the President should at least direct the DOTC to conduct in depth studies on the operations and maintenance of the MRT-3 so that even if the current administration fails to do something about the problem, the next administration would be more prepared to deal with it.

He also cited the Land Transportation Office (LTO)’s failure to issue license plates and registration stickers on time.

“I think the President, even this late in the day, should act because clearly for the past five years, they haven’t performed. I think that’s sufficient time for them to perform and show something out of it,” Escudero said.

“Either they take over and do something about the problems or change the people running these offices because clearly they haven’t been able to deliver,” he added.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto recently called the attention of the LTO to its failure to deliver on its performance targets as contained in the General Appropriations Act.

As contained in its budget proposals for 2015 and 2016, the LTO submitted to Congress the following pledges: car plates and stickers for brand new cars issued within seven days; registration of old cars, complete with car plates and stickers, done within two hours; new driver’s licenses processed within four hours; and old driver’s licenses renewed within 60 minutes.

With all the complaints coming from motorists about the delays in the delivery of services by the LTO, Recto said the ability of the agency to deliver on its promises is now questionable.

“Believe it or not, these are actually the same performance targets the LTO has set for itself this year,” Recto said.

“So we should ask them if they are now delivering plates for brand-new cars within a week, and what gives them the confidence to renew the same promise of processing speed for next year,” he added.

Recto said that he intends to raise the issue during the hearings on the proposed budget of the DOTC.

He said that the LTO should be able to explain the reasons for its problems or if it has solutions. – With Marvin Sy












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