Tired of trying?
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - September 14, 2017 - 4:00pm

Two nights ago, one of our guests shared his view with a Cabinet member that DOTr Secretary Art Tugade seems to have gotten so sick and tired of trying to solve the traffic problem that he has decided to move out of Metro Manila to Clark and concentrate on infrastructure projects such as railways and airport development. Even a fellow Cabinet member of Secretary Tugade conceded that the traffic in Metro Manila feels almost impossible to solve along with the pathetic state of telecoms services in the country.

Apparently, these two problems are currently on the President’s radar and has been an on-going topic of discussion among the President’s men. The problem is, the longer you talk about the problem, the bigger the chances that in your mind you begin to think that you’ve done something about it. As a daily driver in Metro Manila, I commiserate with Secretary Tugade on the traffic problem. However I cautioned my friends that concentrating on the big-ticket projects may be risky since those take three-and-a-half to four years before becoming beneficial and being appreciated by the public.

In the mean time we are now into the “BER” months toward Christmas where Carmagedon will surely strike again because of all the deliveries and purchases related to Christmas. That should be the focus of attention in order to manage public expectation and prevent a PR crisis. I told the Cabinet member that in order to find a solution or remedy to the traffic problem one needs to be part of the traffic flow on a regular basis. Government VIPs don’t see the real world because they have motorcycle escorts clearing the way for them while tying the rest of us down in traffic.

At the moment all related authorities are concentrating on EDSA and to a lesser degree on C5. Strangely, you can predict or guess how much travel time is required during the rush hour but it’s anyone’s guess after the rush hour. This is because all resources and attention are focused on the two major routes but no one is watching the off ramps and roads exiting from EDSA or C5. All of these are highly dependent on the traffic management done by local traffic enforcers who abandon or leave their assigned intersections or off ramps between 10 and 3 or 4 p.m.

So, while traffic all over Metro Manila is 24 hours / 7 days a week, the enforcers of Mandaluyong, Pasig, Quezon City etc. take five to six-hour breaks from their posts to do other tasks, primarily arresting and issuing parking and traffic violations that earn money for their respective cities or pockets. This wouldn’t be a problem if the same people simply left the traffic lights running and in sequence. Unfortunately, they turn off the traffic lights and leave them unused! Why the hell do we spend millions of taxpayers’ money for equipment that is unused or sabotaged?    

If President Duterte gets out of the presidential limo and goes back on the saddle of his favorite motorcycle, he will quickly discover what I mean. Many elected officials think that super projects are what the people want. Sorry sirs, but the people simply want some sense and a system that works. Subways, railways and airports are nice to dream of but in the mean time GET THE TRAFFIC LIGHTS WORKING and ORDER mayors and LGU officials to prioritize traffic flow and not issuing tickets. The President has to take DIRECT PRESIDENTIAL ACTION because he is the only elected official in his executive team who the elected mayors can’t and won’t pull the “I am elected by the people” BS on.

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If two companies can’t do the job what makes the government think that a third telecommunications company in the form of a national broadband, would make the internet/mobile lives of Filipinos better?

That was the argument posed by a couple of business people who represent a great majority of investors in the Philippines. One Japanese executive new to the Philippines wanted to implement a “flexi-time” and work from home program in their manufacturing plant to reduce the stress of his executives. It did not take long for the poor guy to discover that the Philippines has less than 10 percent of the internet speeds he is used to having in many parts of Tokyo, Australia, and America. Instead of relieving the stress of his staff, they are now even more harassed every time outgoing or incoming emails pile up in “cyber-space” due to slow internet speeds.

Instead of jumping into building a third company or a national broadband or reorganizing a certain agency, the suggestion is to hire a third party research or “consultancy group” outside the Philippines to study what are Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and other ASEAN countries doing right or better in terms of government policy, regulation and requirements that result in them having better telecommunications services.

One reason the Executive and Legislative branches can’t come up with the right solutions is simply because of ignorance, they are clueless, or perhaps behind the times in their knowledge of regional standards and practices.  They invite “local experts” whose expertise is simply based on the fact that they own a “related business” or have a degree or similarly shallow or limited knowledge. Most of them don’t live, eat, breath the business or the expertise. Just wanting something is never enough. You have to know what you want, what it costs, how it will benefit the users, and how it will improve the general quality of life. It is not just about plain signal strength, bars or Mbps speed. More importantly the government must educate itself on what the best management practices are for regulating telecoms franchises.

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E-mail: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com


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