Metro traffic getting worse every day | Inquirer Opinion
As I See It

Metro traffic getting worse every day

/ 05:12 AM December 01, 2014

Traffic jams are getting worse every day in Metro Manila and environs. This situation is exacerbated by stupid planning and the lack of coordination among government agencies in charge of transportation and traffic enforcement and concerned local government units.

Last Saturday, friends and I had a birthday lunch in Chinatown. We left a press forum at Annabel’s in Quezon City in two cars at 12 noon. We had the birthday lunch in just a little over an hour, but we didn’t get home until 7 p.m. The reason: traffic jams all over Metro Manila.

We took Quezon Avenue, España, Quiapo, and up Quezon Bridge. At the foot of the bridge at Plaza Bonifacio, we turned right to the tunnel under Sta. Cruz Bridge, planning to come out at the service road between the Post Office and the Postal Savings Bank to turn right at Jones Bridge and then to Chinatown.

In the tunnel, however, debris was scattered across the road. The street was being repaired but there was no worker in sight. It was as if the road repair job had been abandoned. There was no sign that the road was closed to traffic. The site is just five minutes from the head office of the Department of Public Works and Highways in the Port Area.

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We turned back, went through Intramuros and came out of the Walled City near the office of the Bureau of Immigration beside the Pasig River. We were planning to use the road beside the river to reach the foot of Jones Bridge. But that road was also closed.

We turned back again, went past City Hall and the National Museum and around the rotunda to reach the flyover to Jones Bridge, but the traffic there was hardly moving. We moved by inches, literally. It took us more than an hour to get to Jones Bridge. At its foot is the welcome arch to Chinatown. But there was no welcome; that part of the road was also closed. We had to go around a few blocks to get to the street just after the arch. The street under the arch had been cemented over. The part was no more than 10 or 15 square meters long, but it held up traffic for nearly a kilometer.

Past the Binondo Church, Chinatown traffic is always congested. In spite of the fact that the streets are narrow, double parking is allowed. Again, we had to literally crawl forward. The lunch host and guide, Inquirer food columnist and Manila Hotel crooner Margaux Salcedo, who came from Makati, texted that she also had to crawl through traffic to get to our restaurant.

When we found parking places, we left the cars and walked the rest of the way to the Hole in the Wall where we had a quick Chinese lunch. Then we started to walk back to the cars, but a downpour prevented some of us from even crossing the street. We waited it out in another restaurant.

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Finally, we were in the cars and got out of Chinatown at Plaza Sta. Cruz and across the bridge, past City Hall, the National Museum and around the rotunda again, across the bridge to Mendiola, turned right toward Malacañang, then to Sta. Mesa and Quezon City.

At Quezon Avenue, the Elliptical Road, Commonwealth Avenue and all connecting streets, traffic was crawling again. These are very wide streets. Commonwealth is the widest in the Philippines and traffic there was never that heavy except when the Iglesia ni Cristo held one of its birthday bashes.

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The reason this time: The Quezon City government was holding a marathon in the streets after an only-one-day notice. A marathon on city streets during the evening rush hours, on a Saturday after payday, at the same time that malls were having their Christmas sales? Isn’t that stupid?

We made shortcuts through two private subdivisions and came out on Congressional Avenue where we found the traffic also hardly moving. The reason: those infernal road reblocking projects—again. Huge cement mixers, giant cranes, and jackhammers were blocking two lanes of the avenue; only one lane was left for the long line of vehicles that included huge cargo trucks and trailers. There were no sign of workers on the job. It seemed all the road workers had taken a holiday.

That trip to Chinatown took us seven hours, the same time it takes to drive from Quezon City to Baguio and back.

What I and many other motorists cannot understand is this: Congressional Avenue Extension is a relatively new street, but it has already been repaired several times, although there wasn’t anything wrong with it. Private contractors would just arrive with jackhammers and tear up perfectly good streets, then pour new concrete into the holes. This is also happening in many other streets. Isn’t that a waste of the people’s money just to make some contractors so happy that they would be willing to share some of their profits? In the meantime, many other streets in the provinces are not being repaired allegedly for lack of funds.

Another puzzler: Can’t the DPWH, the Metro Manila Development Authority, the Department of Transportation and Communications and the agencies under it, and local government units coordinate their street and traffic plans to minimize traffic congestion? Imagine the billions of pesos squandered in lost man-hours, lost opportunities, lost wages, late deliveries, wasted fuel, etc. All because of stupid, or lack of, planning.

It is as if all these government agencies are conniving to irritate the motoring public.

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TAGS: MANILA, Metro Manila, Philippines - Metro, Quezon City, Roads, traffic

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