MMDA: No need for traffic czar

Ghio Ong - The Philippine Star
MMDA: No need for traffic czar
Motorists experience heavy traffic at Kamuning Flyover along EDSA on December 6, 2023.
STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — There is no need for the government to appoint a “traffic czar” for Metro Manila even after the metropolis was cited as the world’s most traffic-congested metro area in 2023, an official said yesterday.

“I think there is no need to do that,” Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) general manager Procopio Lipana said when asked about the need for the position during an interview aired over dwPM Radyo 630.

He added that local and foreign entities such as the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the University of the Philippines and the Department of Transportation have been helping the government assess road traffic conditions in Metro Manila.

The TomTom Traffic Index 2023 reported that out of 387 mega cities in 55 countries, Metro Manila had the slowest traffic flow in the world, with  25 minutes and 30 seconds spent for every 10 kilometers of road traveled.

Lipana made the pronouncement following an appeal from the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) urging the government to declare a “traffic crisis” and appoint a “traffic czar.”

Metro Manila should be divided into “four traffic management zones,” wherein traffic managers would report to the “traffic czar,” the MAP proposed.

The group also recommended the government’s prioritization of mass transport; limiting left turns, U-turns and intersections; and reviving “mabuhay” lanes or alternative routes motorists may take if major roads are congested.

More infra vs traffic jams

Lipana appealed for patience from motorists as he said the government continues to build infrastructure that would lessen the congestion of roads in Metro Manila.

The traffic jams in the metropolis, especially during rush hour, could be blamed on the lack of road networks and the heavy volume of vehicles using major roads, according to Lipana.

He said the government is building “massive infrastructure projects” such as the Skyway, the subway, and a rail system that includes the Metro Rail Transit Line 7, “which is nearly complete.”

Lipana said the government is “aggressive” in fixing current road networks, including managing the flow of traffic along alternate routes.

He also hoped the suspension of the controversial no-contact apprehension policy (NCAP), which uses cameras installed along major roads to catch traffic rule violators, would be lifted.

“Other countries are turning to intelligent traffic systems. Unfortunately, we can’t maximize the ITS because NCAP is suspended,” Lipana said.

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