MMDA prepares APEC lanes on EDSA

Mike Frialde - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines - With the country’s hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders summit only days away, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is busy preparing the special lanes to be used by APEC delegates and the attending heads of state.

The APEC leaders summit will be hosted by the Philippines on November 17 to 20.

As part of the preparations, the MMDA will be installing plastic barriers that would segregate the two inner lanes of EDSA from the Mall of Asia (MOA) area to Shaw Boulevard  in Mandaluyong as “APEC lanes.”

“We are conducting simulations sa mga ruta po natin and if you notice, dito sa EDSA, nandyan na ‘yung mga plastic barriers that will be used for the APEC lanes. Now, sa tulong po nga ng APEC National Organizing Committee and Committee on Peace and Order and Emergency Preparedness which the MMDA is a member, we are ready for the APEC,” said MMDA chairman Emerson Carlos.

Carlos also reminded motorists that the stretch of Roxas Boulevard from Manila Hotel to the Airport Road in Pasay City would be closed to traffic on both directions from November 16 to 20.   

Carlos admitted that there would still be traffic-related problems during the APEC meet even though government has ordered the suspension of school and work in government offices during the APEC summit.

“Traffic will still be a concern kahit walang pasok ‘yung mga students at walang government work from November 16 to November 20 because the private sector is still there. May mga companies siguro na voluntarily mag-close shop from November 17 to November 20. Meron din naman sigurong mga empleyado na talagang they’ll take the whole week off for a much needed vacation,” Carlos said.

Meanwhile, Carlos also advised motorists on EDSA that the southbound portion of the highway from Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City to the MOA area in Pasay City would be closed to traffic for as long as 30 minutes whenever an APEC head of state would be passing through.

Although the MMDA had earlier designated the two inner lanes of EDSA in both the northbound and southbound directions as “APEC lanes” or only for the exclusive use of APEC delegates, it said that for security considerations, the southbound stretch of EDSA from Shaw Boulevard to MOA will need to be closed to general traffic if an APEC head of state would be passing.

“The two inner lanes of EDSA will be closed. Ito ‘yung APEC lanes natin. Pero like we have been discussing on and off, talagang magkakaroon talaga ng closure ang EDSA kapag dumaan ang heads of state. It would be from that portion of Shaw Boulevard all the way to MOA, the southern portion of EDSA,” said Carlos.

According to Cabinet Secretary and Metro traffic czar Jose Rene Almendras, the closure of the concerned portion of EDSA will not be scheduled for security reasons as he apologized to motorist for the inconvenience it would cause.

“They (APEC heads of state) have their own protocols. They are used to a certain amount of security and leniency and flexibility.  Thereby that protocol is something we have to give to them when they come here so. I have been saying to media in all of my interviews, we have our APEC lanes to be used by delegates along EDSA but when a very important person is passing through, there will be absolute closures. So there will be periods wherein there will be no vehicles will be allowed to move from Shaw Boulevard southbound for about 30 minutes. We do not know when will that happen, I am sorry ‘di po namin ma pe-predict ‘yun,” said Almendras.

Almendras however said that the closure of the portion of EDSA from Shaw Boulevard to MOA southbound will not happen often during the APEC meet as only one head of state would be using that route. Almendras did not identify the APEC head of state.

“Now the good news is the frequency of the closure will not be going to be heavy from Shaw Boulevard because we only have one delegation that will be travelling that route. Now from Makati galing dun sa Makati going to the APEC zone (Philippine International Convention Center and MOA), there will be a lot more because you have more people, more heads of states staying in Makati,” he said.

“I am appealing to all the motorists, all the people. We are hosting a very big event. So many important people that we need to make sure are going to be safe and can move around normally in a way they are able to move, so we really like to appeal, if you don’t really have to do anything absolutely urgent in these areas, then ‘wag na lang po,” he said.

Meanwhile, the MMDA said most of the EDSA closures would happen on November 17 when majority of the APEC delegates are expected to arrive for the summit.

“The bulk of the delegations will be arriving on the 17th. Meaning marami tayong sasalubungin sa airport at dadalin sa mga hotel nila and these movements are absolute closures meaning isasara talaga yung daan para makagalaw itong mga ito,” said Almendras.

Almendras again appealed for the understanding of motorists and commuters for the closure of EDSA and some major roads during the APEC meeting.

“It is not about avoiding traffic. It is not about that. These are not ordinary people therefore we need to afford them the flexibility that they are used to when it comes to movements. 

“We are not trying to show the world na wala kaming traffic sa Manila,” he said. 

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