Malolos City—In an outside-the-box approach to tackle the yearly exodus to the provinces for All Saints’ Day or “Undas,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade is meeting head-on the anticipated problems of commuters and motorists.
The answer: A Malasakit Help Desk in every point of departure and arrival where commuters, by land, air or sea, often encounter all sorts of problems.
In a directive to ensure the success of the Department of Transportation’s “Oplan Biyaheng Ayos: Undas 2019,” Tugade ordered the full establishment of MHDs all over the country to serve as a one-stop shop for passenger assistance in airports, seaports, train stations, and land terminals.
He said the MHDs will be activated starting Oct. 26 until Nov. 4.
In line with DOTr’s objective, the Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., which operates three major expressways, is again activating its annual “Safe Trip Mo Sagot Ko” to assist motorists and provide quick response to emergency calls.
MPTC president and CEO Rodrigo E. Franco held a press conference on Thursday at the Luxent Hotel in Quezon City to brief the media on the SMSK program now on its ninth year.
At the same time, Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar did a final inspection of the first sections of the Cavite-Laguna Expressway and said the project is 90 percent completed.
CALAX stretches from the Mamplasan Barrier in Muntinlupa onto the Laguna Technopark Interchange, and the Laguna Boulevard Interchange all the way to Santa Rosa-Tagaytay Interchange.
“The remaining 10 percent are portions of the expressway that need to be harmonized, we are fast tracking those portions. Meantime, we will ensure that CALAX will be passable and ready to serve motorists this October 30, in time for Undas,” Villar said.
Tugade said Filipinos are traditionally sentimental with their departed loved ones, so much that the observance of Undas has always become a chaotic scene at almost all hub of public transport and terminals.
At Binan, Laguna, Villar agreed and said: “We will open the entry and exit points at Mamplasan, Binan Laguna and Sta-Rosa Tagaytay Road.”
“It’s a long weekend, and apart from paying respects to the dearly departed, I’m sure a lot of families would want to take advantage of this time to do some bonding in Tagaytay, Batangas and Manila,” he added.
Approximately 10,000 cars are expected to enter and exit through these access points, Villar said.
“This section will approximately be 10 minutes to drive — a big cut on travel time compared to the 45 minutes it currently takes to travel Mamplasan to Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay road,” he said.
To decongest the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay Road, Governor’s Drive, and Aguinaldo Highway in Cavite, Villar said it is imperative to deliver the total 45-kilometer length of CALAX by June 2022.
“Once completed it will only take about 45 minutes to an hour to drive from Mamplasan to Kawit, Cavite and this will serve about 50,000 vehicles,” he added Villar.
The inspection was conducted with MPTC subsidiary MP CALA Holdings, Inc. led by President and General Manager Bobby Bontia.
“We are in close coordination with the DPWH, together we align with the different stakeholders and update them of the developments in the construction, inform them of the features of the expressway and the benefits that CALAX will bring to the areas it will traverse,” Bontia said.
CALAX is designed to be a four-lane tolled expressway that will connect CAVITEX in Kawit to South Luzon Expressway SLEX at their Mamplasan Interchange in Binan Laguna.
CALAX will have interchanges in eight locations: Kawit, Imus Open Canal, Governor’s Drive, Aguinaldo Highway, Silang, Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay, Laguna Blvd., Technopark, and a Toll Barrier before SLEX.
“It will also showcase technologically advanced features, such as Automatic License Plate Recognition System enabling barrier-less entry to CALAX, IP Based Speed Detection Cameras strategically installed, and High Definition CCTV cameras to cover the entire stretch of the expressway to ensure safe and efficient travel by the motorists,” Bontia added.
MPTC’s domestic portfolio includes the concessions of North Luzon Expressway, the Subic-Clark Tarlac Expressway, the NLEX Connector Road, CAVITEX and CAVITEX C5 Link, and the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway in Cebu.