As I See It

P-Noy correct in suspending P3.7-B Edsa repairs


Hurray! President Aquino has suspended the rehabilitation of Edsa, scheduled to begin in May, until more studies are completed, particularly on how to lessen the inconvenience to motorists. It seems only the President has common sense in the whole administration. The plan was approved and sprung on the people by the Cabinet, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and all the mayors of Metro Manila.

Anyone can see that the plan to rehabilitate at the same time the whole stretch of the 23-kilometer highway that cuts across Metro Manila will bring untold hardship—for two long years!—to motorists and the residents of villages where vehicles will be rerouted. The traffic jams will slow down not only people but also trade and industry. The whole economy, which is recovering, will suffer a setback again because of some harebrained plan on which not enough studies were made. It is obvious that the plan was made in haste.

Why the hurry? The Department of Public Works and Highways said it wants to finish the work in time for two international conferences in 2014 and 2015. The work will cost taxpayers P3.7 billion! Is such a big expense urgent? No, Edsa is better than many other roads in the Philippines. Not only P3.7 billion will be wasted on such a foolhardy project; billions more will be lost due to a slowdown in commerce and industry.

And what has Edsa got to do with international conferences? Delegates will pass through Roxas Boulevard from the airport to their hotels, not through Edsa. In fact, with Edsa jammed with vehicles due to the repairs, motorists will look for other roads to lead them to their destinations, and prospects are that Roxas Boulevard will be one of them. Thus, traffic jams will be transferred to it. That is what the foreign delegates will have to endure.

The undue haste has led some to suspect that it has something to do with the May elections. Kickbacks from favored contractors will be used to finance the poll campaign of Team PNoy, so the suspicion goes. Hence the haste to award the contracts now. That also explains why the Metro mayors readily agreed to the plan in spite of the fact that it is their constituents who will suffer the most. P-Noy’s decision to suspend the project has quickly ended that suspicion.

Planners must first devise ways to cut the number of vehicles on Edsa. As any fool can see, there are too many buses ferrying few passengers even during rush hours. And as they do in other countries, contractors must set up temporary steel overpasses above the portion of Edsa being repaired so that the flow of traffic is not impaired. Help Metro Rail and Philippine National Railways increase coaches, trains and trips to accommodate more passengers.

Skyways to connect NLEx and SLEx have been approved. Why not wait for them to be finished before starting the Edsa rehabilitation? They will take some of the traffic load off Edsa.

And help operators of the water ferry system to improve and expand its services so that it can carry more of the human traffic. The P3.7 billion for the Edsa project has been cancelled. Use it to help improve and expand the railway and ferry services. After that, we can go back to Edsa. Even if it is as smooth as NLEx and SLEx, traffic jams will remain as long as the number of vehicles using it is not reduced.

* * *

There have been complaints about interconnection problems between Globe and Smart. It seems that the rival mobile networks are at it again—Smart’s upgraded network versus Globe’s modernized network. According to a source from Globe, its subscribers are not experiencing any problems with interconnections to other networks, either through messaging or calls.

Most of the complaints are from Smart subscribers having problems sending text messages to Globe. Can it be that the transmission problem is with Smart?

As for Sun Cellular, there is a link congestion in its network that is affecting its inter-operator SMS traffic. But according to Globe officials, there are ongoing negotiations with Sun to upgrade their links to serve Globe subscribers better.

Can it be a case of a difference in the system between a modernized network versus a mere upgraded network for Globe and Smart, respectively? As of the last update, Globe subscribers are expected to enjoy the fruits of the first phase of its modernization project.

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Tags: column , edsa rehabilitation , neal h. cruz

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