World | Philippines

Philippines losing billions in traffic jams

Major road projects underway to ease congestion as wealthier Filipinos buy more vehicles

  • By Gilbert P. Felongco, Correspondent
  • Published: 15:14 July 7, 2013
  • Gulf News

Manila: The Philippines is losing billions of pesos everyday from lost productivity due to traffic jams, particularly in Metro Manila, the presidential palace said while noting that major road projects are underway to ease the congestion.

“Among the government’s major thrusts is to decongest Metro Manila and build infrastructure that will ease traffic congestion,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview aired over government station dzRB.

Vehicular traffic in Metro Manila had long been a major concern of the Philippine government. Recently, however, the congestion appears to be worsening as wealthier Filipinos buy more vehicles and enjoy their improved spending power.

According to Arsenio Balisacan, Director General of the National Economic Development Authority, the Philippines is losing Php2.4 billion (Dh204 million) per day in potential income as a result of traffic congestion problems and lost productivity.

But Valte said relief is underway. She said the main focus is easing traffic flow in EDSA, Metro Manila’s main thoroughfare.

Apart from the campaign against unregistered buses on the city’s roads, the government plans to move the terminals of provincial buses away from EDSA, she said.

“The government is building the north and south terminal so that buses plying provincial routes do not have to take the EDSA route. The administration is also building various infrastructure projects to ease traffic flow in the metro,” she said.

President Benigno Aquino has instructed agencies to find alternative roads that could be used once the EDSA rehabilitation starts, she added.

Metro Manila’s last major road rehabilitation programme was implemented some 20 years ago and a lot of peripheral improvements in the metropolis had taken place since then. Now, there are a lot more malls and establishments that use the EDSA road network than ever before.

Compounding the road situation in Metro Manila the poor drainage system. Whenever the rains come, commuters are often mired in several hours long traffic.

Valte said that in addition to the usual road maintenance, the public works and highways department is also doing flood mitigation plans for Metro Manila. The government targets to pave all national roads by 2015-2016.

Earlier, novelist Dan Brown made passing mention of Metro Manila’s monumental traffic jams in his book ‘Inferno’.

Brown, who also wrote the best sellers ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and ‘Angels and Demons’, had described Metro Manila as the ‘Gates of Hell’.

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