MANILA - Manila is not only famous for its bay or its night life but also for its traffic jam where cars can come a halt for many hours. This is in fact an experience that most visitors to the Philippines capital or in major large cities are likely to have. Not only traffic gridlocks in urban areas generate pollution and damage people’s health but they also cost billions of pesos in lost revenues. In an interview on a local radio station in the Philippines capital, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte indicated that the country is losing billions of pesos everyday from lost productivity due to traffic jams, particularly in Metro Manila.
Figures were provided by Arsenio Balisacan, Director General of the National Economic Development Authority. He recently estimated that the Philippines is losing Php2.4 billion (US$ 500 million) per day in potential income as a result of traffic congestion problems and lost productivity.
However, according to the presidential spokesperson, the current government has made a priority the improvement of public infrastructure. It is only to hope that the current Benigno Aquino’s government will be luckier to succeed where all previous administrations have failed. Solving congestion in Manila and other big cities has been a politician major topic over the last 25 years but results have been meager, especially in regard to the publicly show willingness to act tough. The growth in living standards has only worsened the situation as more people can now afford to drive a car.
According to Mrs. Valte, the situation is due to improve soon as major road projects are underway to ease the congestion. “Among the government’s major thrusts is to decongest Metro Manila and build infrastructure that will ease traffic congestion,” explained Abigail Valte to the radio station.
Among the potential measures to be adopted by the government, Mrs. Vailte mentioned to move bus terminals to the provinces outside the core city centre.
“The government is building the north and south terminal so that buses plying provincial routes do not have to take the EDSA route. The administration is also building various infrastructure projects to ease traffic flow in the metro,” she said.
President Benigno Aquino has instructed agencies to find alternative roads that could be used once the EDSA rehabilitation starts, she added.
Metro Manila’s last major road rehabilitation programme was implemented some 20 years ago and a lot of peripheral improvements in the metropolis had taken place since then. Now, there are a lot more malls and establishments that use the EDSA road network than ever before.
Added to the problem is also a deficient drainage system which provocates regular flooding. As soon as rain arrives, traffic immediately takes a hit with hours of jam turning into routine. The government targets to pave all national roads by 2015-2016.