At the 7th Usapan last week on improving traffic administration in Metro Manila, the head of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) Traffic Discipline Office, Ret. Gen. Francisco Manalo, suggested further limiting the ownership and use of private cars to ease traffic congestion.
Usapan AAP is a monthly interactive forum where members of the news media, government officials and private sector leaders involved in promoting road safety and the motoring industry meet over lunch. Usapan AAP is hosted by the Automobile Association Philippines (AAP) and emceed by journalist Cito Beltran.
Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, who chairs the traffic committee of the Metro Manila Mayors Council, was invited as a panelist last Thursday, but never responded to the invitation despite followup calls to his office; neither did he deign to send a representative. MMDA Assistant General Manager Emerson Carlos had been designated by MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino to represent him, but didn’t show up, either. On the other hand, the third invited panelist, University of the Philippines National Center for Transportation Studies Director Sean Palmiano arrived on time, showing that he was the only well-educated person among the three invited panelists.
Manalo, who hastily stood in for Carlos, candidly admitted that the number coding scheme imposed to limit the number of private vehicles on the road on weekdays has failed as people purchased more cars to circumvent it. Manalo blamed the worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila on the rapid growth of the private car population and suggested adopting Singapore’s car rationalization system, whereby people have to bid for a Certificate of Entitlement for Vehicles before they can buy a motor vehicle.
Palmiano proposed teaching the basic rules of road safety and the Land Transportation Code in high school to reduce the number of road crashes injuring or killing youngsters, who are the most vulnerable road users. AAP’s Gus Lagman informed those present that the AAP, together with Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., has long been planning to construct a Children’s Traffic Safety Park where public elementary school pupils can go to learn and practice road safety habits, using bikes and push pedal cars.
Asked about the absence of traffic enforcers during traffic jams, bad weather and flash floods, Manalo said that the MMDA does not have enough traffic enforcers and cannot afford to equip all of them with raincoats and boots. He noted that the Chinese Chamber of Commerce has donated 500 raincoats and boots to the MMDA, but these will last for only three months. The nondurability of locally made raincoats and boots was corroborated by former Land Transportation Office chief Alberto Suansing, who is now executive director of the Philippine Global Road Safety Partnership, the secretariat of which is housed at AAP 28 Edsa.
Regarding the waist-deep flash floods that stranded motorists for hours in Metro Manila the other Tuesday, Manalo said that the drainage system on Edsa has to be improved, especially in front of Camp Aguinaldo. He explained that the flooding was partially due to the newly installed culverts inside Camp Aguinaldo that are not proportionate to the culverts in Edsa.
When asked to diligently enforce the motorcycle lane regulation on Edsa, Manalo said that due to lack of personel, the MMDA could conduct random campaigns, such as enforcing the motorcycle lane and helmet law on a certain day, apprehending out-of-line buses on another day.
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