What can we do?

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez - The Freeman

Some things are just beyond our control. Last Tuesday, while motorists and the riding public were negotiating, or suffering, from the snail's pace of EDSA and other major thoroughfares, the sky decided to open up, and open up big. A heavy downpour started late in the afternoon and continued for several hours. And when it rains like that in Metro Manila, floods are inevitable. As if pouring vinegar into the already frayed nerves of motorists and commuters, the floods effectively stopped traffic in some areas. Passenger vehicles could no longer drive though several key roads such as EDSA and SLEX. Even the NAIA was flooded. A flooded airport. With nowhere to go, they just had to wait out the rains and for the floodwaters to subside. That took several hours with some saying that they left for home on Tuesday but arrived on Wednesday. That's actually funny, but to those who experienced it, it definitely wasn't. A new word may be included in our vocabulary soon, Carmageddon.

We cannot control the weather. The Tuesday rains seemed to test the resolve of the HPG who are now tasked with trying to solve traffic on EDSA. Like a curve ball pitched in a baseball game. Nobody was prepared for what happened. The floodwaters rose, and stayed. I can imagine the rage, the swearing, the frustration of those who were caught up in the horrendous traffic that ensued. But then again, what can we do?

There was enough media coverage of the new pumping stations that were put into service. But obviously, they did little to drain the rains. Flood control is actually an oxymoron in this country. There is no such thing. If the floods control anything, it's the city. There have been many flood control projects through the years, in all past administrations. But when the rains come, the same eventuality occurs.

What is it exactly that causes the floods? What is it that negate the efforts of flood control projects? Is it garbage? Is it an old sewer and drainage system? Clogged sewers, canals, pipes? But aren't those projects done to address those? Actually, we have ourselves to blame as well. Throwing garbage into waterways and into the streets has a lot to do with flooding. We see it everyday. Cigarette butts flicked anywhere. Candy wrappers discarded wherever they stand. Plastic water bottles that just cannot make it to trash bins. And of course, those who live near canals and creeks who have turned them into their personal dumpsites. Something that every politician seems powerless to curb. No surprises there.

Thing is, we need the rains. Warnings of a Christmas season with limited power and water supply because of a severe El Niño are already dampening everyone's spirits. Nobody wants to wake up to a brownout and a waterless day, on Christmas. But if the rains do not regularly come, that's what we are looking forward to. The HPG's baptism of fire continues. We can only hope that solutions, rather than more problems, come up. Since the rains come down late in the afternoon or early evening, is it time to rethink about office and working hours? Should people start going home a lot earlier, to avoid the rush and the gush?



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