Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian is partly blaming Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II for Metro Manila’s traffic woes since he did nothing to ease the burden of hundreds of thousands of motorists and commuters when he was chief of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).
Gatchalian took issue on Secretary Roxas’ statement saying that traffic congestion, particularly along the major thoroughfares in the National Capital Region, is a sign of economic growth and is therefore a good sign.
“Secretary Roxas’ analysis of the horrendous traffic being a sign of economic growth is twisted. Such interpretation is unexpected of Roxas, who used to be the secretary of DOTC,” said Gatchalian, a senior vice chair of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development.
This is what Roxas said during the annual national convention of the Philippine Sugar Technologists Association Inc. (Philsutech) in Cebu last week: “This (traffic) is a problem in a sense that arises from prosperity. Because there is money. Because there is economic activity.”
Roxas added: “When I was in DTI (Department of Trade and Industry), 60,000 vehicles a year was a big year. That was about 12 years ago. Today, 260,000 vehicles last year, 300,000 vehicles projected this year, and 10 percent to 15 percent projected into the future.”
Gatchalian pointed out that Roxas is using economic growth as a poor excuse for the horrible traffic that has to be endured by the overwhelming majority of the population.
“Secretary Roxas himself has hinted that a major cause of the horrendous traffic is the surge in car sales following the easy payment terms making it affordable to the middle class,” said the Valenzuela City lawmaker.
The local automotive industry has posted its highest growth with 21 percent for this year’s first semester, compared to the same period last year, showed in the data from the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines. This translates to sales of 131,465 units for the first half, higher than last year’s 108,957.
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Gatchalian said a possible solution to the traffic problem in Metro Manila is the regulation of new car sales to those who have parking spaces in their homes or offices as this will decongest the secondary roads that could be used to ease traffic.
The Valenzuela City congressman has filed House Bill No. 5098, known as the “Proof of Parking Space Act”, which would require buyers of brand new cars, whether individuals or firms, to execute an affidavit indicating the availability of an existing parking space for the vehicle to be bought.
“The road congestion in Metro Manila is worsened by the idle vehicles parked on the sides of streets, which hamper the flow of motor vehicle and foot traffic. This can be solved if car owners have their own parking spaces,” said Gatchalian.
Gatchalian said the traffic jams all over Metro Manila will choke whatever economic growth Roxas is claiming since the traffic problem affects the productivity of employees and workers and ultimately, this is bad for the economy.
A study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) showing that the economy can face productivity losses skyrocketing to P6 billion a day in 2030 from the current P2.4 billion if no government intervention is made on traffic congestion in Metro Manila. (Monica Cantilero)