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Why didn’t MMDA act on ‘choke points’ before?

12:04 AM July 19, 2016

ARTHUR Tugade, the new secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications, has suggested a rather “lofty” idea—the use of “cable cars in the sky,” similar to those in Bolivia, as another way to ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila (“Incoming DOTC chief eyes cable cars to decongest Manila traffic,” Inquirer.net, 6/28/16).

Seriously, if our trains on the ground are frequently putting commuters at risk by being stalled or derailed due to sloppy maintenance, how safe would the cables holding the steel boxes with you and me inside, high up in the air (a long way down to the ground), be from snapping?

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And along Edsa?

Slinging the cables from one high-rise building to another or from one very tall tower to another built along Edsa (in the absence of surrounding mountains) does sound a little loony. And what “scenic view”—all that smog down below?

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With due respect, may I suggest a more down-to-earth and immediately doable, less expensive strategy? A front-page report in the July 7 Inquirer gave us a hint: “77 Metro choke points identified by MMDA.” Those are the major bottlenecks and flash points that cause horrendous congestions and get motorists homicidal. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has long known about those areas of concern; but for some mysterious reasons, it has not done anything to clean up the mess.

What’s so difficult about getting MMDA traffic enforcers to do nothing but man those choke points during peak or rush hours (if not 24/7) and holding them accountable if the CCTVs show them not doing their job? This is a no-brainer. We seldom see any traffic enforcer apprehending bus drivers, jeepney drivers, taxi drivers and other motorists violating traffic rules in those areas.

Most notorious are the bus drivers; they do not fall in line at bus stops and swerve to the next lane or lanes like nobody’s business to try to get ahead of everyone else. Jeepney drivers are not to be outdone: Not only are they driving like the roads were built only for them; they cross Edsa and stop at corners to compete for passengers right under huge signs that read, “Walang sakayan dito” (No loading here), thereby blocking the vehicles behind them which in turn block Edsa.

I once used a megaphone to threaten jeepney drivers with apprehension if they didn’t move away from the corner of Edsa and Kamuning in Quezon City. Thinking the voice was from a police car, they did move forward and cleared the corner and Edsa of obstruction. Later on, a paunchy traffic enforcer came out of an air-conditioned fast-food outlet nearby, accosted me and told me to cease and desist from doing that or face arrest for “impersonating a traffic enforcer.” When I told him I was a lawyer and knew my right to make a citizen’s arrest, he slunk away —and continued looking the other way. There you have it: the microcosm of our traffic problem.

Let’s face it. Edsa is the litmus test for any attempt at rationalizing and streamlining traffic in all of Metro Manila. You screw up at Edsa, all other alternate routes get screwed up just as badly.

—STEPHEN L. MONSANTO, Monsanto Law Office, Loyola Heights, Quezon City

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TAGS: cable, choke points, DOTC, EDSA, letter, Letter to the Editor, MMDA, opinion, traffic, trains, Tugade
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