TRAFFIC, ITS COST ON THE ECONOMY AND PEOPLE’S LIVES
IF YOU THINK you’re only losing a few hundred pesos from your paycheck every time you arrive late for work because of the traffic, think beyond yourself and think of the nation’s economy. The Philippines is losing 2.4 Billion pesos each day because of traffic. This is how much the country is losing each day due to traffic that we hope to see real changes to happen on Metro Manila roads under the administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.
If we compute this loss on a yearly basis at five working days per week, this would more or less amount to P 625 Billion. These monies could bring more food on the table for the poor and significantly improve the lives of Filipinos. These are loses caused by wasted man hours and the incremental cost incurred in the movement of people, goods and raw materials to and from the factories and ports because of bad traffic.
Economic analysts predict that, unless major road projects are undertaken to address the worsening traffic problem in Metro Manila, by year 2030, the Philippine economy will lose over P 6 Billion pesos each day due to traffic.
How bad is it?
If you’re living in Quezon City and needs to be at work by eight o-clock in the morning at Makati City, you have to hit the road before six o-clock to beat the morning rush hour traffic along EDSA and C-5. Meaning, you have to be up by four thirty to prepare and have a quick breakfast. And by the time you hit the road at about five thirty, the kids could still be in dreamland curled up in their beds. If you take the bus to avoid the very long line of commuters to the over-crowded trains, this could also be bad.
Going back home after office hours is the same story, if not even worse. How much family time is lost due to bad traffic, which could have been quality time with the family? Moreover, how many lives have already been lost due to road rage? Yes, traffic can cause tempers to boil on the road. Such is the traffic situation in Metro Manila that it’s not getting any better, but turning worse instead.
The Culprits to Traffic Woes
The culprits to our traffic woes are Metro Manila’s growing population, rising number of vehicles, poor enforcement of traffic rules, road diggings and repairs, undisciplined motorists and insufficient road infrastructures.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), in August 2007, the National Capital Region (NCR) had a population of 11,547,959. This figure is higher by 1,615,399 over the 9,932,560 NCR population in 2000. This represented an average annual population growth rate of 2.10 percent in NCR for the period 2000-2007.
For his part, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Assistant General Manager for Operations lawyer Emerson Carlos said in an earlier report, the metropolis is crowded with over 2.5 million Metro Manila registered vehicles. But this could easily swell to an even bigger number as vehicles registered outside Metro Manila also use the roads of the National Capital Region (NCR). And with the rate auto financing companies are rolling out low-down payment and easy financing schemes for prospective car buyers, more new cars are rolling out of dealerships each day.
Metro Manila’s traffic woes can be addressed with an efficient and comprehensive traffic management program that is anchored on three E’s for Engineering, Education and Enforcement.
Engineering is very important in traffic management as this will cover the much needed road infrastructures to accommodate the growing number of vehicles in Metro Manila. According to Carlos, Metro Manila has only about 5,000 kilometers of roads when according to a study, the metropolis must have 8,000 kilometers of road networks.
Education is also essential in traffic management. This must, however, be a collective undertaking by the motorists, pedestrians, commuters and traffic enforcers. The public, especially the road users, must be informed of the traffic rules and regulations and what not to do while using the roads. An informed road user after all, would unlikely be involved in any traffic situation.
Enforcement of traffic rules for its part will be crucial in putting order on the roads. With Metro Manila’s insufficient roads, the strict enforcement of traffic regulations could matter a lot. The traffic rules are clear and the fines and penalties defined. However, if these are not properly enforced, Metro Manila will continue to suffer from the debilitating effects of its worsening traffic condition.
The administration of incoming president Rodrigo Duterte would be inheriting a proverbial problem that had been passed-on to many presidents. And while the administration of outgoing president Benigno Simeon Aquino III have started several major road projects in Metro Manila, its completion will, however, take years. But we can see a silver lining in the incoming Duterte administration. The Davao Mayor’s style of discipline, could help put order on the chaotic roads of Metro Manila.
ARIEL NEPOMUCENO is the Deputy Commissioner at the Bureau of Customs, and a columnist of Trade In Magazine.