EDITORIAL – Uninhabitable
(The Philippine Star) - January 4, 2016 - 9:00am

The government is doing its best to ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila, Malacañang assured the public yesterday. The assurance was given in the wake of a warning that Metro Manila could become “uninhabitable” within four years if the traffic problem is allowed to fester.

John Forbes, senior advisor of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, predicted worsening road congestion as vehicle sales continue to increase. Forbes is also the principal author of the annual Arangkada report, which the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines launched in 2010. The report identifies problems in generating investments, lists detailed recommendations to accelerate Philippine economic growth, and tracks the progress of the proposals.

Rising vehicle sales is good news for the automotive industry. But the trend must be complemented by measures to improve traffic flow. In many cases, mismanagement is the culprit in traffic jams. There are several spots along major thoroughfares where a four-lane road is hogged by buses waiting for passengers, leaving only one lane for other vehicles to pass. Barkers can be seen collecting money from the bus drivers. Who collects the money from the barkers?

There was an announcement last year that several main roads in private gated villages would be opened by the city government in Parañaque, following the example of Las Piñas. The plan is turning out to be nothing but hype. Village homeowners’ associations in Parañaque have started collecting hefty annual fees again for vehicle stickers. If the plan to open certain roads to the public is ever carried out, it will probably be when it is no longer needed and the sticker payments have been made.

The village roads are needed because there is no more room to expand the road network in Metro Manila. More flyovers can be built, but right-of-way claims must be settled quickly and corruption must be kept out.

Allegations of corruption and inefficiency have hounded the light railway and train systems. Expanding the light rail and train services would encourage more people to leave their cars at home. An efficient train service combined with the full use of the ports in Batangas and Subic could ease congestion in the Port of Manila and the traffic snarls caused by cargo trucks.

With just six months left, the best that the government can do is improve traffic management. Most of the possible measures to ease traffic will have to wait for the next administration.

AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE PHILIPPINES ARANGKADA ATILDE BATANGAS AND SUBIC JOHN FORBES JOINT FOREIGN CHAMBERS OF THE PHILIPPINES LAS PI MALACA METRO MANILA PORT OF MANILA TRAFFIC
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