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Manila mayors’ ridiculous streetlight gimmicks

/ 05:12 AM February 08, 2019

I have lived next to España for the last 14 years. I moved in during the time of Mayor Lito Atienza. This was a time of colorful streetlights that did not light up the streets. The few that are left do not function.

Then came Mayor Alfredo Lim. He took down most of the colorful Atienza-style streetlights  and installed old-fashioned ones. These worked for a few months. But today, most of them no longer function as well.

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Then came Mayor Joseph Estrada. At first, he turned off all of the streetlights, claiming that Mayor Lim left him without money in the budget.  He later installed waiting sheds, which may be a good idea but were used to proclaim his leadership at city hall. The lighting for these advertisements still function. But the solar-powered streetlights installed in his first term do not.

For his second term, Mayor Estrada is installing new streetlights along España. These are on long poles, undergoing installation in time for the upcoming midterm elections.

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From a selfish perspective, I should not complain about all this attention on my street. But in Tondo, home of the nation’s busiest port, many streets lie in darkness and decay. In other areas, streetlights are a rarity. There are more problems, too. Garbage piles up and litter is commonplace. Although the personnel at city hall are friendly, it takes forever to conduct business there. In the center parking area, what used to be a place for city-owned vehicles is now full of SUVs.

During the 1990s, I could be proud to live in Manila. After all, it was the first city, the royal city, the capital city. But now the city is an embarrassment. It is a decaying city, a dirty city, a neglected city in need of help. It needs a cleanup, a lively entertainment district and more businesses. These problems cannot be just brushed over with streetlighting gimmicks. The city needs new solutions for the people who live here.

JONATHAN FOE, [email protected]

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