While the deployment of traffic enforcers from the PNP-High Patrol Group will help ease traffic along EDSA, the government has to have a long-term solution to the worsening traffic congestion and one of this is the creation of a “super body” that will impose a unified traffic scheme in Metro Manila.
Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) Congressman Win Gatchalian is urging Malacanang to create the super body to be headed by a “traffic czar” who will have operational control over several agencies such as the Metro Manila Development Authority (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.
Gatchalian had actually proposed the creation of a “super body” exactly a year ago on Sept. 9 after Northern Metro Manila experience the worst traffic gridlock in recent history brought about by the total truck ban imposed the City of Manila.
Under Gatchalian’s proposal, the “super body” will be headed by a “traffic czar” with a cabinet rank and will have operational control over franchises for public transportation, including the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and the Light Rail Transit (LRT), as well as the enforcement of traffic laws.
The traffic czar’s agency will act as the clearing house of all activities on the road, including road works by DPWH and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).
Overall, Gatchalian wants the traffic czar in-charge of the planning for public transportation. “It is imperative that road projects of the DPWH are coordinated first with the super body so that MMDA traffic enforcers will know what alternate routes motorists can use to prevent traffic jams,” he said.
“The traffic czar will have the authority to decide if a road project will be put on hold to protect the interest of motorists and commuters,” the Valenzuela City lawmaker said.
Gatchalian, a senior vice chair of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development, argued that a single authority whose policy will have to be followed in all cities is needed to ease the worsening traffic situation in the NCR.
Business groups have earlier warned that frequent monstrous traffic jams will ultimately kill economic activity in Metro Manila and result in higher prices of basic goods.
“The MMDA cannot impose a single traffic scheme as it is only a mere coordinating body between local chief executives and some offices,” explained Gatchalian, who was mayor of Valenzuela City for three consecutive terms.
Gatchalian said congestion linked to conflicting traffic policies result in losses in time and money to businessmen and ordinary folks alike, and in turn hurt the economic as a whole.
He recalled a study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) showing that the economy can face productivity losses skyrocketing to P6 billion a day by 2030 from the current P2.4 billion if no government intervention is made on the traffic problem.
“Manila, being the center of the commercial and industrial activities, has to immediately implement an efficient, harmonious traffic solution, or else drag the economy down,” concluded Gatchalian. (R. Burgos)