Brace for worse traffic in short term, economist warns

Posted at 09/05/14 9:47 PM

MANILA – Motorists and commuters should expect traffic in the metropolis to continue to worsen, warned economist Benjamin Diokno.

Diokno, a former budget secretary, said solutions eyed by the Aquino administration in addressing the congestion in Metro Manila roads won't be implemented for another 2 to 3 years.

During this period, Diokno said there is no way for traffic to ease in major thoroughfares, noting that about 25 percent of vehicles are added to the roads annually, yet no new roads are being constructed to accommodate them.

“Things will get worse before they get better dahil wala naman tayong dinagdag na bagong kalsada,” he told dzMM on Friday.

He added that road expansions at this point will also snarl traffic.

Diokno said the connector road linking the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) will help alleviate heavy traffic in Metro Manila, but he noted that its target completion date is not due for another 2 to 3 years.

The Metro Rail Transit-Line 7 (MRT-7), meanwhile, won’t be completed until 2018.

On Friday, vehicles entering Manila through NLEX were stuck for hours in a massive traffic jam caused by the slow movement of trucks entering the Port of Manila.

According to Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino, trucks queuing to enter the port are experiencing problems due to congested cargoes inside the port.

The problem of port congestion in Manila has been hounding the business sector for months, and has affected prices and supply of goods.

Diokno believes that one of the solutions to decongesting Manila ports is by utilizing other ports, particularly in Batangas and Subic.

“Ang solusyon diyan sa congestion sa pier ay isang napakacomprehensibong solusyon that the President should put somebody in charge kasi malala talaga ‘yan eh. Dapat ide-congest mo ‘yung Manila port at gamitin ‘yung Batangas at Subic,” Diokno said.

“Ang plano mo diyan, kung ang shipment mo ay papunta din naman sa CALABARZON, madaming factories diyan, eh bakit hindi na lang sa Batangas mo ipabagsak. Kung sa North Luzon, eh ‘di sa Subic,” he added.

Diokno also said recent technical problems of the MRT add to the traffic problem, as more commuters may choose to ride buses than the railway system.