Six accidents and buses being forced into the yellow lane for public utility vehicles were blamed for the massive traffic jam on the southbound lane of EDSA on Tuesday, forcing commuters to alight and walk to their destinations along Metro Manila’s main thoroughfare.
The Metro Manila Development Authority said the six traffic incidents were recorded between 4 a.m. and 3 p.m. by its Traffic Monitoring System, but the gridlock began at around 9 a.m. and continued well into the evening, disgruntled motorists and passengers alike reported on social media.
On Twitter, the MMDA explained that all buses, both city and provincial, were made to stay within the yellow lane. This forced the bus drivers to jostle for position going into the yellow lane, creating impassable queues that blocked private vehicles emerging from EDSA’s side streets and prevented them from reaching the white lanes and flyovers, such as the one at the corner of Kamuning Street.
MMDA Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Celine Pialago said the provincial buses that have been occupying the yellow lanes added to the volume of vehicles on EDSA. She admitted that some of the agency’s personnel had committed lapses in enforcing the new policy, and assured the public these workers would face sanctions.
The government had planned to prevent provincial buses from ever entering Metro Manila via EDSA, but a court order issued last Friday kept the MMDA from carrying out the plan.
“The MMDA’s stand here is that those who committed errors in manning traffic would be investigated and made accountable by GM (general manager) Jojo Garcia, especially those who said that provincial buses are not allowed to use flyovers and tunnels, which is where they should be,” Pialago told GMA News.
The first road accident happened at the northbound intersection of EDSA and P. Tuazon involving two passenger buses around 4:55 a.m. occupying one lane in the area.
Two other incidents occurred after three hours along the southbound of EDSA in areas of Santolan Street and Quezon Avenue where a car and a bus both stalled due to mechanical problems.
Another accident was reported around 8:36 a.m. along the southbound of Domestic Road near the Land Transportation Office involving a van and a motorcycle.
Two hours later, a car got involved in a road accident with an Asian Utility Vehicle at the westbound intersection of EDSA and Quezon Avenue while the same incident happened involving a car and a bus at the southbound intersection of EDSA near Aurora Boulevard around 12:04 p.m.
Two more accidents occurred between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. along the southbound lane of EDSA near Connecticut involving a car and an AUV, and another car and a closed van on the eastbound lane of Maxima near Quezon Avenue.
Many commuters chose to walk to reach their destinations rather than be stuck for hours in the traffic.
The daily average number of road accidents in Metro Manila is 73 and most happen between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. caused mainly by human error.
In 2018, there were 116,906 vehicular accidents in Metro Manila, most of them, or 38,967, were recorded in Quezon City.
Senator Ralph Recto urged the Department of Transportation to include in its budget the acquisition of medical ambulances and tow trucks to address vehicular accidents, which also contribute to the gridlock.
Recto said aside from saving lives, emergency medical teams can reduce the time when traffic is stopped and a road is blocked by an accident.
Lack of awareness of traffic rules causes most road accidents in the Philippines, according to former MMDA chairman Emerson Carlos.
But traffic education must go to enforcement agents first, he said.
“We should begin with the enforcement agents because they are the ones managing traffic. If we begin with the road users, and our enforcers lack training and education about road safety, nothing will happen,” Carlos said.