What is happening at the DOTC/LTO?
The Department of Public Works and Highways has announced several roadworks and repairs on Edsa for at least a couple of years, so expect that part of Metro Manila will be hell on earth in terms of traffic jams. It already is now, what with contractors tearing up parts of Edsa and then pouring concrete into the holes, although many people see nothing wrong with those parts of Edsa. Traffic will be much worse when they start the construction of the Skyway that will link NLEx and SLEx. The Skyway is expected to reduce the traffic volume on Edsa, Metro Manila’s main artery. No pain, no gain, says the DPWH.
Like a clogged coronary artery, Edsa needs a bypass.
Edsa traffic is heaviest in Makati, from the Magallanes Interchange at Osmeña Highway to Guadalupe Bridge. That is the price that Makati has to pay for being the country’s financial district (attention, Quezon City). The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) estimates the volume of traffic in Makati to be 800,000 during work days, the bulk of which is on Edsa.
It is also in Makati where you find exclusive villages of the rich along Edsa, providing opportunities to ease the congestion. The possible bypass for Edsa is inside Dasmariñas Village and Forbes Park, two of the country’s most exclusive subdivisions.
We expect howls of protest from the residents of these villages. If they tried to prevent their own mayor from passing through a Dasmariñas gate, how much more the rabble from outside.
But it has been done before. When the Metro Rail 3 was being constructed in the late 1990s and the traffic on Edsa was terrible, the MMDA wanted Dasmariñas to open a detour on one of its roads. Its request was denied, so the MMDA had to use its police power to compel them. The village association went to court and succeeded in blocking the MMDA.
Meanwhile, motorists and commuters suffered. Eventually, the court ruled that the MMDA has no police powers. But the courts did say—and this was upheld in several Supreme Court rulings—that the local government unit has the police power and the authority to open subdivision roads in the public interest.
Now that MRT 3 has long been finished, traffic on Edsa is back to terrible, and will get worse. The Magallanes Interchange will be closed this year for repairs. So where does that leave the motorists and bus commuters?
What I don’t understand is why the exclusive villages do not voluntarily open a detour inside their gates. Have they lost their sense of community? Or are they no longer part of the Philippine community?
The residents will say: The reason we bought expensive property here was to have privacy.
Residents of these villages are well within their rights to demand that their privacy be respected. But as citizens, is it not also their duty to do their share in solving our problems in this country? And anyway, it would only be during the rush hours.
Opening subdivision roads in Makati has had precedents. Bel-Air Village allows private vehicles and taxicabs with passengers to pass through the village during rush hours—a little courtesy given by the village to nonresidents—and it helps ease traffic on Makati
Avenue and Nicanor Garcia Street (Reposo), and Gil Puyat Avenue (Buendia).
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What’s happening at the Land Transportation Office? During the Christmas season, the Department of Transportation and Communications announced an invitation to bid for the LTO IT project. This project is the system currently being maintained by Stradcom Corp.—the private firm that computerized the LTO nationwide and created the IT system that the LTO uses today. Stradcom also maintains this system. Its contract expired in February 2013 but has been extended because of the failure of two earlier biddings. (By the way, Stradcom has not been paid by the LTO for services rendered. The LTO now owes Stradcom more than P3 billion—and that is only until the contract expired in 2013. Since the extension, the LTO has piled another P1.9 billion in debts to Stradcom).
Two biddings have been held but both failed because the bidders did not meet the qualification requirements.
Why not just renew the Stradcom contract? The DOTC says that the current IT system is “no longer responsive” to the LTO’s requirements. But it does not qualify this statement with specifics. Stradcom offered in 2012 to undertake a P2-billion worth of system upgrade at no cost to the government. The government rejected the offer. It is now 2014. Had government accepted the offer, the system would have been upgraded to the LTO’s desired specifications by now.
But it appears that the government does not know the specifications that it needs. In the bid documents for the present bidding, the requirements are sorely lacking, making the bidders scratch their heads and ask, “What is the government really looking for?”
For example, in the current bid documents:
• There is no specified requirement for performance criteria.
• There is no specified volumetrics (like number of work stations, servers, number of users, etc.).
The DOTC also seems to have no concept of time:
• The bid documents require the winning bidder to implement the LTO IT project within nine months. That means that from the awarding of the bid, the winning bidder must have the entire system in place and roll out the project not later than the 10th month. This is for 300 LTO sites nationwide. There will be no time to study the market or customize the system.
• The DOTC also did not consider that various processes will need time. Business processing for the project alone may take five months, if not more; completion of requirements, five months; customization, five months; user acceptance testing, another five months. It is impossible to roll the LTO IT project out in nine months.
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