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Needed: Traffic czar

Manila Standard

If the private sector, including business enterprises, are among those adversely affected by horrible and monstrous traffic congestion in Metro Manila, shouldn’t government at least listen to what they have to say?

The Management Association of the Philippines recently called on the government to appoint a traffic czar to oversee the transport situation in Metro Manila, describing the current traffic situation in the metropolis as having reached ‘crisis’ levels.

The 73-year-old business group believes the government must realize the crisis has been the result of a failure in traffic management and a change in road and traffic management policies and practices is essential.

“For this paradigm shift to happen, the MAP recommends, as a first step, the declaration of a traffic crisis and the appointment of a new traffic management team to be headed by a traffic czar appointed by the President,” MAP said.

The designated traffic czar, the influential business group pointed out, must be vested with full powers and authority to mobilize, direct and deploy existing government resources, both on the national and local levels.

The group also recommended a holistic approach that includes organizing Metro Manila into four traffic management zones, each to be headed by a qualified traffic manager. These traffic managers would report to and be accountable to the traffic czar.

MAP also proposed the designation of new “Mabuhay lanes,” or secondary streets serving as alternate routes to main arterial roads such as EDSA, C4, C5 and other radial roads.

It proposed the direction of traffic flows on Metro Manila streets be revised to minimize conflicts at intersections. This could be done by limiting left turns and crossings as well as prohibiting U-turns except only in suitable locations.

MAP also recommended complying with the 2017 National Transport Plan drafted by NEDA prioritizing policies for mass public transport over the use of private vehicles.

There’s more: the government must complete the EDSA busway system and privatize the operation and maintenance of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 and the Light Rail Transit Line 2, among others.

In 2017, the Japan International Cooperation Agency estimated the Philippine economy lost P3.5 billion daily due to traffic in Metro Manila. with a dire warning that this would balloon to P5.4 billion per day in 2035 without government intervention.

It’s the government’s move, from where we sit, and it shouldn’t wait anymore for the abominable traffic in the National Capital region to descend into utter chaos and descend into what’s been described as nothing less than “Carmageddon.”

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