Gov’t wants to open up subdivisions to ease traffic

By Camille Elemia

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation seeks to open up private subdivisions and villages to motorists to ease the worsening traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade mentioned this on Wednesday, August 10, during the 1st hearing of the Senate public services committee on the proposed emergency powers for President Rodrigo Duterte to solve the traffic problem.

“Sa kalsada sobra sobra na ‘yung sasakyan. Sobra sobra, dapat bawasan ‘yung sasakyan, magpatayo ka ng kalsada o gumamit ka ng kalsada ng iba, ‘yung mga privately-owned kagaya ng subdivisions,” Tugade said.

(There are too many cars on the road. Really excessive, so we have to reduce the number of cars, build more roads, or use privately-owned roads like those in subdivisions.)

Anticipating opposition from homeowners, Tugade said, “Hindi naman makikiraan tayo habangbuhay.” (We are not going to use subdivisions’ roads forever.)

At present, Tugade said he is personally asking subdivisions to help the government. The transportation chief gave an assurance that the government would ensure the safety of homeowners.

“Let it be said right here and now, that our choices for private roads will not be arbitrary or whimsical. We will not compromise safety of subdivisions. Security mechanisms and security expenses will be borne by the government,” he said.

Tugade added private roads in subdivisions would only be used for certain times, such as during peak hours.

“Higit sa lahat, ‘yung gamit po hindi 24 hours. Ide-define natin ‘yung peak moment of time,” he said.

(Most importantly, we would not use private roads for 24 hours. We will define the peak moments.)

‘Single traffic authority’

Senate President Pro-tempore Franklin Drilon took the opportunity to ask Tugade what policy issues or reforms are needed to speed up decongestion. (READ: Dept of Transportation unveils plans to ease Metro Manila traffic)

Drilon is the chairman of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, which is the secondary committee handling the issue of emergency powers for Duterte.

Tugade responded by emphasizing the need for a “single traffic authority” to manage the traffic system.

The secretary, who has only been in power for 32 days, lamented how both the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the local government units (LGUs) control roads and traffic rules.

“Kailangan natin ng synchronized traffic system. Alalahanin ‘nyo po ‘yung traffic management dito ay tangan po ng MMDA. ‘Yung circumferential at radial road tangan po ng local government. Kung nakakapansin konting kaluwagan, masasaktan ‘pag lumiko sa kanan pagkat wala nang say dun ang MMDA, ang may say doon ay local government,” he said.

(We need a synchronized traffic system. Keep in mind that the traffic management here is handled by the MMDA. The circumferential and radial roads are controlled by the local government. If you will notice a certain area has no traffic, you would just be disappointed when you turn right because the MMDA has no control over that road, it is the local government that has the say there.)

Tugade also said there should be one licensing authority. Under the present system, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) handles drivers’ licenses while the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) handles franchises of public utility vehicles.

The LGUs, meanwhile, manage the registration of tricycles in their respective areas.

“Samu’t saring licensing na nandidito ngayon. May licensing authorities po ang [transportation department] through LTO saka LTFRB sa prangkisa. Meron pong authority rin ang MMDA, ‘yung mga tricycle at mga ano ba ‘yun, mga tricycle, barangay level ‘yun. LGU. Sir, kailangan kumpasan nang maayos ‘yun,” he said.

(There are various licensing authorities here. The transportation department has licensing authority through the LTO and the LTFRB for franchises. The MMDA also has authority. The tricycles, that’s barangay level. Local government unit. Sir, we need to properly address this.)

Drilon, in turn, asked Tugade: “Are you saying Mr Secretary that at least for the period of emergency we should suspend the powers of the local government units insofar as management of traffic is concerned?”

“Parang ganoon na po, sir,” Tugade replied. (It seems so, sir.)

Citing a 2014 Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) study, Tugade said the country loses around P2.4 billion daily due to heavy traffic. In 2016, he estimated the losses now amount to P3 billion a day. –

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