Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) Congressman Win Gatchalian today hailed the PNP-Highway Patrol Group (HPG) for showing political will in bringing back order and discipline in the heavily-congested Epifanio De los Santos Avenue (EDSA).
“Police officers of the HPG deserve to be congratulated for demonstrating political will in trying to instill order and discipline along the 23.8 kilometer highway. They have shown to the public that something concrete could be done to ease the traffic situation in EDSA,” said Gatchalian, a majority member of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development.
While MMDA traffic enforcers have been manning traffic in EDSA for more than a decade now, MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino has not been able to focus on the traffic problem in Metro Manila because of his senatorial ambition.
“That’s the problem when you have an MMDA chairman who is busy in his provincial sorties in preparation for his senatorial run. Because he is always absent in the MMDA office, his decisions are already compromised,” explained Gatchalian.
Gatchalian maintained that it would be best for the MMDA if Chairman Francis Tolentino will immediately resign so the President can appoint a new MMDA chairman who will be full time in his job and who will demonstrate political will in untying the traffic jams in other major highways and thoroughfares outside of EDSA.
“Chairman Tolentino doesn’t have the political will because he is already in the campaign mode. For the sake of MMDA and for the sake of delicadeza, he should resign immediately as do other government officials who have already declared their intention to run for political office in 2016,” said Gatchalian.
President Aquino directed the PNP-HPG to handle six major choke points on the highway—Balintawak, Cubao, Ortigas Avenue, Shaw Boulevard, Guadalupe, and Taft Avenue.
In response to the presidential directive, HPG has deployed 150 policemen that will man traffic in EDSA in two shifts. No less than 10 policemen each will man the six major chokepoints. The HPG has also moved for the rerouting of provincial buses on certain hours and asked motorists to observe traffic rules and road courtesy.
In recent months, traffic jams on EDSA and other main roads have worsened, causing massive inconvenience to commuters even past rush hour. The MMDA estimates the volume of vehicles passing daily along EDSA at 145,000.
Gatchalian had earlier proposed the creation of a super body to be headed by a “traffic czar” who will have operational control over several agencies such as the MMDA, Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and the National Capital Region office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH-NCR).
“Cities in the Metro Manila implement different policies to manage the vehicular flow in their respective areas but this only worsens the overall traffic in Metro Manila. There should be a traffic czar whose well-coordinated traffic plan will be followed in all cities,” explained Gatchalian.
Traffic congestion is taking a toll on the economy and commuters. Economic losses due to the congestion in Metro Manila was estimated at P2.4 billion a day and could rise to P6 billion a day by 2030 if the government fails to intervene, according to a study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Low-income households have to spend an average of 20 percent of their monthly income for transport, the study said. The losses do not include the impact of pollution from motor vehicles on the health of residents of the metropolis.
Malacañang has urged motorists and street hawkers to observe discipline to help ease the congestion on EDSA.
EDSA and other major thoroughfares will also be cleared of any obstructions and illegal vending activities, according to Malacañang.
To further help ease traffic flow, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will conduct road engineering to identify the type of vehicles that could pass certain roads. (R. Burgos)