The coming yuletide season brings with it the usual spectre of traffic gridlocks and transportation nightmares. It’s a problem for both motorists and commuters alike.
As expected, the Metro Manila Development Authority will blame the heavy volume of vehicles that will take to the road during the yuletide season as the main cause of traffic congestion in the metropolis. It’s the same excuse given by the MMDA during each Christmas holiday season.
Actually, the leadership of the MMDA, which is headed by Danny Lim, is too incompetent to realize the real cause of the traffic nightmare—MMDA mismanagement.
The number-coding restriction scheme currently in force in the National Capital Region was designed to reduce by 20 percent the volume of vehicles traversing the metropolitan roads during the daylight hours of regular days of the week. From a statistical perspective, the figure is defensible. From a practical point of view, however, the measure is a miserable failure.
First, politicians and members of the judiciary are given multiple license plates which allow them to circumvent the number-coding restriction. On the days their special privilege license plates are covered by the number-coding restriction, many of them simply use their regular plates to circumvent the road ban.
Assuming they do use the special plates on the days their vehicles are restricted, their plate numbers are intimidating enough to discourage MMDA traffic enforcers from stopping them on the road.
The number of politicians and judges who circumvent the number-coding restriction renders the 20-percent reduction statistic alleged by the MMDA unreliable.
Second, physicians are exempted from the number-coding restriction, as long as they are on a house call. Huh? Physicians no longer make house calls. Patients, no matter how ill, have to go to the hospital or the clinic themselves. To avail of the exemption to the number-code restriction, a physician simply tells a traffic enforcer that he or she is a physician on the way to a house call. Yeah, right.
Besides, what is a physician entitled to special treatment? Almost all of them charge very expensive professional fees, evade taxes, live luxurious lives, ride in very expensive vehicles, and have no interest in providing free medical services to the needy.
The number of physicians exempted from the number-code restriction renders the 20 percent statistic cited by the MMDA meaningless.
Third, many vehicle owners identified with the Philippine National Police, the Philippine National Police Academy, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Philippine Military Academy exploit the intimidating name of their offices to repel traffic enforcers. They do so by affixing special license plates with labels like PNP, PNPA, NBI and PMA right beside their regular plates. These vehicles can be spotted easily.
The volume of those vehicles again render the 20% reduction statistic cited by the MMDA illusory.
There are other causes for traffic congestion in Metropolitan Manila which the MMDA refuses to address on account of the incompetence of its leaders.
Motorcycle traffic along Edsa and Commonwealth Avenue used to be restricted to a specific lane on those thoroughfares. Today, the motorcycle lanes are ignored. Motorcycles disregard traffic regulations with impunity, run counterflows anywhere they wish, shift lanes without notice, and block pedestrian lanes at intersections. Because they tend to get in the way of almost all vehicles, they add to the slow flow of traffic in major roads.
This column has repeatedly invited the attention of MMDA Chairman Danny Lim to the motorcycle problem, but he refuses to take action.
The innermost lanes of a major avenue is supposed to be restricted to fast-moving vehicles. Unfortunately, the MMDA allows slow moving vehicles to use these lanes, thus blocking the way of fast moving vehicles. This can be readily observed at the southbound lane of Edsa across Camp Aguinaldo. There, the MMDA allows vehicles intending to turn left at Santolan Road (Serrano Avenue) to accumulate at the two innermost lanes. As a result, a bottleneck ensues at the mouth of the Edsa-Santolan flyover, and this clogs traffic flow as far as the SM Megamall area.
Reckless taxicab drivers and inconsiderate jeepney drivers also add to the traffic mess. Taxicabs and jeepneys load and unload anywhere they please, and many MMDA traffic enforcers ignore their illegal habits. As a result, traffic needlessly accumulates practically everywhere along their routes.
Let’s face it. Traffic regulations will be obeyed by almost all motorists only when traffic enforcers are in sight.
No MMDA traffic enforcers are around at night, probably because there are no more motorists to harass for violating the number-code restriction. There are hardly any police vehicles patrolling the roads at night. Many of them are busy escorting politicians heading home, or to nightspots in the metropolis. As a result, many taxicab and jeepney drivers openly ignore traffic lights after dusk. Maybe Lim thinks that road safety and order just are not necessary at night? For that matter, does the MMDA operate only during the daylight hours?
Many MMDA traffic enforcers hide at street corners waiting to cash in on erring motorists. They often conduct their stealthy operations at the intersection of Meralco Avenue near ULTRA in Pasig; at the corner of Shaw Boulevard and Edsa beside Star Mall; along the segment of Ortigas Avenue from Meralco Avenue to C-5; and at the corner of Edsa and Ortigas Avenue beside the POEA Building.
The foregoing problems were also repeatedly brought to the attention of Lim, but the latter, as usual, refuses to act on them. Lim is probably too occupied with the anticipated glamor and glitter of the coming 2017 Metropolitan Manila Film Festival in December, where awful films compete with one another for the dubious title of the “best” among the lousy movies of the festival; or maybe Lim is busy fraternizing with the stupefying Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and former Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon. All three were former mutineers who violated the Constitution which to swore to obey and defend as soldiers.