A “single, synchronized” authority to effectively manage the traffic system in Metro Manila has emerged as one of the initial solutions to the major problem besetting commuters.
The Senate committee on public services started hearings on the proposal to grant President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers to solve the country’s transportation problems.
The traffic mess in the metropolis, however, is caused by many factors; it requires long-term solutions that emergency powers may not provide.
Pinpointing the immediate causes of the problem is a start. Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade noted in Wednesday’s hearing the unwieldy set-up in Metro Manila’s traffic management, which is shared among the Metro Manila Development Authority, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, the Land Transportation Office and local government units.
Tugade also raised the possibility of suspending the power of LGUs relating to traffic systems for the duration of the implementation of the emergency powers. The specific proposal is relevant if the emergency power results in the creation of a single authority to deal with the traffic in the national capital region.
The current role of the LGUs in managing traffic is a mockery of the MMDA. LGUs in the past have defied MMDA’s administrative and supervisory objectives, resulting in uncoordinated traffic management. LGUs and their executives have limited perception of the problem at hand because of the priority they give to their constituents.
Beyond traffic management, President Duterte’s emergency powers should lead to the fast-tracking of roads, rail networks and other infrastructure projects that will serve as the long-term solution to the traffic chaos. For starters, the special powers should be used to remove provincial bus stations along major thoroughfares. These terminals contribute significantly to traffic congestion, which are surprisingly tolerated by the LGUs.
Mr. Duterte’s emergency powers cover a limited period. They should be judiciously used so that they can produce immediate results.