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Opinion

EDITORIAL - Roads and development

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With the school year over and summer at its peak, traffic remains slow in Metro Manila as the government takes advantage of the sunny days to undertake road maintenance. While motorists have long complained about the poor quality of roads in Metro Manila, with pavements disintegrating in a heavy downpour, residents can count themselves lucky; the National Capital Region already has the best road network in the country.

A study undertaken recently by a state-owned think tank linked the quality of roads to the level of poverty. Despite the presence of many slum areas, the NCR, with 98 percent of its roads paved, has the lowest poverty incidence in the country, according to the think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies or PIDS.

In 2006, poverty incidence in Metro Manila stood at 5.4 percent. In contrast, poverty incidence outside the NCR stood at double digits in the same year, according to the PIDS study. The highest poverty incidence of 45.2 percent was recorded in the Bicol Region, where only 45.9 percent of provincial roads and 47.5 percent of city roads were paved.

Nationwide, only 14 percent of local roads and 69 percent of national roads are paved. The PIDS study calls for more investments in local roads to spur economic growth. Studies conducted by the World Bank have also linked the quality of roads to the level of development and poverty incidence. Roads, the World Bank noted, improve market access, stimulate commercial activities and facilitate the delivery of supplies. Accessibility and good roads also encourage job-generating investments.

Many roads that need paving are within the jurisdiction of local governments. If local officials want prosperity for their communities, they must improve accessibility and invest in better roads. This is important particularly in areas that are hoping to lure more tourists. Not all travelers are interested in trekking through rough terrain. In many areas, travel and commercial activities stop where the paved road ends.

BICOL REGION

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES

INCIDENCE

LOCAL

METRO MANILA

NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION

PHILIPPINE INSTITUTE

POVERTY

ROADS

WORLD BANK

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