Yuletide, the festive season in this predominantly Christian nation of 106-million people, officially begins on Monday when the nine-day midnight masses usher in Christmas which lasts until Epiphany.
In the metropolis, where nearly 13-million people live, with the same road network as in decades back and the volume of rolling wheels unregulated, which has allowed the emergence of brutishly terrible traffic, authorities have launched measures to address what could well spoil a happy memory.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority has asked those going to Christmas parties—a jabbing sight during the season—to do carpooling to help lessen traffic in the already congested traffic road arteries.
The Christmas party week in fact began earlier this month, with organizers trying to outflank others in assigning party dates as from midway of the month in the 16 towns and cities, including the capital Manila, of the expanding metropolis.
Particularly watched by authorities is the volume of traffic along the nearly 24-km Epifanio delos Santos Avenue, the limited-access circumferential highway around Manila, and surrounding boulevards and avenues—with officials predicting a 15 to 20-percent influx of vehicles in roads during the season.
MMDA authorities have also met up with officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways, shopping mall operators as well as water utility and telecommunication firms to mitigate the expected traffic congestion that automatically accompanies the Christmas rush.
MMDA has implemented its new plans—these began on Nov. 11 and will be in effect until Jan. 10—which include the temporary suspension of any road reblocking along EDSA and C5, with the exemption of government flagship projects.
Shopping malls in the metro have also been ordered to begin operations at 11 a.m. on weekdays instead of the usual 10 a.m. opening. At the same time, mall operators have been instructed to deploy additional security personnel to control the flow of vehicles queuing up at parking lot entrances to avoid bottlenecks.
These are smart measures. But measures that need the cooperation of those going out.