Atienza, Osmeña on floods, traffic, DAP
Floods are again expected as Typhoon “Glenda” barrels into the Philippines. While the Bicol region will feel the brunt of the typhoon, it is expected to bring heavy rains to Metro Manila, which means floods will, as usual, engulf many streets and homes. How can we prevent floods after every heavy rainfall?
By wise planning, said Sen. Serge Osmeña and Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza at the Kapihan sa Manila at the Diamond Hotel last Monday. But the Metro Manila Development Authority has no plans, the two lawmakers said. It reacts only when the floods are already there.
“The MMDA solution is to set up an MMDA office on España where floods are usually deepest (as MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino once said during a heavy flood). What good will that do?” smirked Atienza, a former mayor of Manila. “That office will not prevent any flood.”
Atienza added: “The answer is planning, but the MMDA has no plans. One problem is in the numerous street diggings all over the metropolis that block the flow of water through the underground pipes. Doesn’t [Public Works Secretary Rogelio] Singson see that?”
The same is true of the traffic problem, of which the MMDA and the Department of Transportation and Communications have no plans, the two Kapihan guests said. Every commuter sees what the problem is—too many vehicles on too few roads—but the people in charge of transportation and traffic have no plans to solve it.
For example, there are too many buses on Edsa, many of them colorum, most of them half-empty even during rush hours, wasting precious fuel and adding to the air pollution. They take much space of the avenue. Why can’t the DOTC get rid of the colorum buses?
Increasing the fines for colorum buses to P1 million won’t do it. It will only increase the rate of tong of traffic enforcers. And how can we catch the colorum buses when the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board does not even know which bus lines have franchises?
“We asked the LTFRB to give us a list of buses with valid franchises, and it cannot show us any,” said Atienza. “How can it know which buses are colorum?”
Then there are the private vehicles. Every year, the car assemblers pour about 300,000 new cars into the streets, most of which end up in Metro Manila. That does not include the vehicles smuggled into the country and the jeepneys assembled from discarded parts in the provinces of Cavite and Laguna. But old vehicles are not phased out; they stay on and on and on. Where are we going to put all of these vehicles when too few new streets are being constructed?
“An efficient mass transit system can move people around quickly, but our mass transit system is also in a mess,” the congressman added. “There are not enough LRT and MRT trains. The available ones are often in disrepair. The lines of passengers waiting to buy tickets are sometimes half a kilometer long. When they do get a ride, they are packed like sardines inside the coaches.
“The train operators or the government should have bought additional trains a long time ago. The government has placed an order for more trains only recently, and the first ones won’t be delivered until next year. And when they do arrive I bet there won’t be enough of them to solve the traffic problem.”
“Are you in favor of the truck ban in Manila?” Atienza, a former mayor of Manila, was asked.
“The cargo trucks should be rationalized,” he replied. “I did it myself when I was mayor. The huge trucks really contribute to the traffic jams.”
The truck operators and their business clients are blackmailing Mayor Joseph Estrada and Vice Mayor Isko Moreno by claiming that the truck ban causes the loss of billions of pesos because of the late deliveries of materials.
But think of more billions of pesos lost to other businesses and ordinary citizens because of the traffic jams caused by the cargo trucks.
Ships unloading cargo in the Port of Manila should be diverted to the ports in Batangas and Subic, Atienza said. “The government spent billions of pesos for the Batangas port, but it is only 8 percent utilized. Most of the cargo unloaded in Manila are bound for the Calabarzon area (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon). Why not unload them in Batangas where they would be nearer to the recipients?
“Relieve the congestion in Manila by unloading cargo bound for southern Luzon in Batangas and those bound for northern provinces in Subic,” Atienza added.
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On the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), Osmeña said those who wasted the funds in bogus nongovernment organizations should really be prosecuted. But those who spent the money on worthy and necessary projects should be applauded.
He added that his DAP funds had been spent wisely on needed projects.
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