Limlingan: Nothing new with the traffic situation

DP Limlingan

I WAS in Metro Manila over the weekend and experienced the "what is extra-ordinary" that became now "the ordinary phenomenon" on the streets: traffic jams. Vehicle gridlocks are nothing new in the capital region except that it has gone worst from worse.

I am not new to the experience, in fact, we got used to it just like other drivers who have to brave the biggest parking lot in the world, the Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue or Edsa. It’s the main artery in the country’s central metropolis and it is also the traffic problem laboratory where many have failed to solve the country’s traffic problem.

While behind the steering wheel, I whiled away time and pondered on the different factors contributing to the traffic problems in the country.

I recalled how one member of the American Chamber of Commerce once said that if the traffic problem in Metro Manila would not be solved by the year 2020, then the country’s capital metropolis would be rendered uninhabitable.

I likewise recalled that we belong to the top ten among the countries in the world with the worst road traffic situations among with Kenya, Bolivia, Japan, Thailand, Russia etc. This fact indicates that traffic problems do not choose whether a country is highly-developed or belonging to the third world.

Assessing the factors, I saw that we have so much poor roads in urban areas. They are narrow and dilapidated, hampering the smooth flow and speed of traffic especially during rush hours.

We likewise have the great volume of vehicles that is not commensurate to the number and sizes of our road networks resulting into the choking of vehicles’ flow usually in roads that are similar to bottlenecks.

Finally, we have so much undisciplined drivers who perceive the public roads as their property. These drivers, whether in private cars or public utility vehicles, have so much to do with traffic gridlocks as they seem to be in their racing modes along with other drivers.

Since the implementation of trade liberalization in the country, importing vehicles and spare parts became easier. This means that many Filipinos were given wide array of vehicles to purchase and own because it has been made easy to own one or two.

To date, we have more than 8 million vehicles that are registered with the Land Transportation Office. Add to these are the unregistered and undocumented ones which despite their government registration status, ply in roads and highways.

Because of the rapid urbanization of provinces in the country, traffic situation in such places have likewise been made different. A perfect example of such provinces is Pampanga where growth and development is experienced.

Without co-relating traffic problems with the great volume of economic activities, it seems that growth and development coming in the province comes along traffic woes. It can be observed that the traffic situations in Metro Manila and in many provinces are far different five or ten years ago.

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