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Duterte to sign EO to strengthen I-ACT mandate

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President Rodrigo Duterte is set to sign an Executive Order to give more teeth to members of the revived inter-agency group tasked to manage and control traffic in the National Capital Region, Metro Manila Development Authority general manager Thomas Orbos said on Tuesday.

The order, according to Orbos, will strengthen the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic to find solution to the worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila and prevent billions in economic losses.

“It will strengthen I-ACT that would focus not only on coordination but would also have power to enforce, including the enforcing of local government units to implement a single ticketing system,” said Orbos in a television interview.

“We should have a central traffic authority and only one ticketing system, one traffic signaling scheduling and enforcement,” he added.

He said apart from Metro Manila, I-ACT, under the Executive Order, will also cover the neighboring provinces of Laguna, Rizal, Cavite and Bulacan.

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The government earlier reactivated I-ACT to supervise, control and manage the flow of traffic in Metro Manila while Orbos, who is the concurrent Transportation Undersecretary for Road, was designated as Council chief.

Aside from traffic management, I-ACT was also tasked to intensify its operations against illegally parked, colorum and out-of-line vehicles, and illegal terminals.

The Council is composed of MMDA, Department of Transportation, Department of Public Works and Highways, Police-Highway Patrol Group and local government units.

The reactivation of I-ACT was deemed necessary by the government to ensure proper coordination among various agencies involved in traffic and infrastructure.

Antonio Gardiola of the Police-Highway Patrol Group, was the first I-ACT chief when the council was created in September 2016. It was formed to promote cooperation in the fields of traffic congestion, commuters’ safety, anti-colorum operations, and enforcement of traffic rules.

The government is also considering removing all provincial bus terminals along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue to ease traffic on the 28.3-kilometer highway.

Buses coming from Southern Tagalog region will soon to be no longer allowed to enter Metro Manila and would travel only up to Sta. Rosa in Laguna.

Members of the Metro Manila Council, the MMDA’s policy-making body, agreed on this.

The plan, according to MMDA chairman Danilo Lim, is part of the Intermodal Transport Scheme initiated by the Department of Transportation.

“From Sta. Rosa, passengers can transfer to another bus or train going to Metro Manila. The consideration really is the Intermodal Scheme. The place there is located near the PNR [Philippine National Railways system] station. They can transfer and that is the main consideration,” said Lim.

The MMDA chief, however, did not give a timeline when the plan would start.

“We are hoping the soonest, we'll see,” he said.

MMC traffic committee chairman and Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista expressed his support to the plan, saying that Metro Manila mayors has an intense relationship with government agencies like MMDA, Land Transportation Office and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in terms of finding solution to road congestion.

“The root cause of traffic on Edsa is really the buses,” he said.

In August last year, Bautista led the MMC in approving the removal of bus terminals along Edsa in line with the government’s solution to the worsening traffic situation in the metropolis.

Bautista and Pasay City Mayor Antonio Calixto, whose jurisdiction have the most numbers of bus terminals, were the first local executives who signed the MMC resolution entitled “Rationalizing the Operations of Provincial Buses and its Terminals Along Edsa.”

In its resolution, the MMC noted that the move is in line with the directive of President Duterte during his first State of the Nation Address that all bus terminals which are located along Edsa “must eventually be removed and referred to strategic areas outside of the metropolis with the end of decongesting said major thoroughfare.”

“As a matter of policy, no additional provincial bus terminals shall be allowed to be established along Edsa,” the Resolution stated.

It also stated that owners or operators of existing bus terminals are directed to make the necessary preparations “for their eventual removal from Edsa” and “consequent transfer to strategic areas outside of the metropolis.”

The MMDA said that the removal of the terminals  would help improve the flow of traffic since provincial buses will no longer enter Metro Manila to load and unload passengers.

MMDA records showed that there are 85 provincial bus companies situated in Metro Manila.

Of the 85 provincial bus companies, 46 firms have terminals on Edsa, particularly in Cubao, Balintawak and Taft Ave.

Around 3,300 provincial buses and 12,000 city buses pass through Edsa daily.

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