The monstrous traffic jam in Metro Manila caused the Philippines a daily economic loss of P3.5 billion in 2018, according to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), in charge of traffic management in the region.
MMDA traffic czar Bong Nebrija said that the figure compares to the P2.4 billion lost every day in 2016 due to heavy traffic – a figure from by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the National Economic Development Authority. He maintained that our traffic woes have been caused the by lack of road infrastructure and the increasing number of vehicles in the metropolis.
Nebrija said that the country would continue to suffer economic losses of to up to P5.4 billion in 2035 if the traffic congestion in the country’s economic capital will not be addressed. “These numbers are really alarming on our potential economic loss. That (could already) build us roads and bridges, and (we can) spend it on building more infrastructure. Sayang yung losses na ‘yun (Those losses are regrettable) just because of traffic,” Nebrija said.
Nebrija cited the “Follow Up Survey on the Roadmap for Transport Infrastructure Development for Greater Capital Region” study of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) that assessed the country’s economic cost of transportation.
The economic cost of transportation refers to the vehicle operating cost and time spent by both drivers and passengers along Metro Manila’s busiest thoroughfares.
The MMDA inked a partnership with the JICA in September 2018 “to identify and analyze traffic bottlenecks, (and) develop a five-year action plan that contains sustainable solutions on traffic management.”
The two agencies are also working on the capacity enhancement of the country’s traffic reduction measure under the “Project for Comprehensive Traffic Management Plan for Metro Manila.”
They also signed the “Records of Discussion for the Technical Cooperation Project,” which started this year until 2022, “to mitigate road traffic congestion on major corridors in Metro Manila.”
The government’s “Build, Build, Build” project may help ease the traffic problem in Metro Manila, but Nebrija said that the problem would persist if the number of private vehicles will continue to increase.
Citing MMDA’s record, Nebrija said that there is an average of 200,000 new vehicles being registered annually in the National Capital Region (NCR) alone – a huge number that contributes to the traffic problem.
Aside from the apparent unstoppable increase of vehicles, Nebrija said that the 31 malls – 17 on EDSA and 14 on inner roads near it – are also one of the “traffic generators” in the metropolis.
Nebrija said that the mall-wide sales and other related activities of shopping centers are contributing around 15 to 20 percent of vehicle congestion on the busiest thoroughfare in Metro Manila especially during Christmas season.
But he said that the traffic caused by mall activities remains to be manageable because of their “open line of communications” with the mall operators and the interventions being implemented to ensure smooth traffic flow.
In another development, Nebrija admitted that they find it “very challenging” to come up with traffic-reduction measures in the metropolis especially when the public and the lawmakers strongly oppose to whatever schemes they introduce.
One of the junked traffic-reduction solutions that the MMDA has introduced was the implementation of the high-occupancy vehicles policy which would ban vehicles with only the driver aboard on EDSA.
After the HOV lane policy, Nebrija said that they are now being challenged to scrap their bus ban policy, which would also reduce the number of coaches on EDSA.