The traffic mess in Metro Manila and other urban areas in the rest of the Philippines has long been the scourge of commuters and workers. It has robbed the population of precious hours and caused huge economic losses that the previous administration largely ignored.
The Aquino government’s insensitivity to the plight of commuters, indeed, has infuriated many and it is just fitting that they should be given a break. Incoming Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade’s proposal to grant President-elect Rodrigo Duterte special powers to deal with the deteriorating traffic situation in Metro Manila is a change that had been a long time coming.
The transportation infrastructure has been unable to keep up with the rising demand, while vehicle sales in the Philippines have risen to unprecedented heights.
The proposal to grant special powers to Mr. Duterte has gained support from many sectors, especially from the Makati Business Club and former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The business community noted that the Philippines was near transportation crisis that needed urgent action and solutions.
Arroyo is proposing a bill in Congress to grant the powers to Mr. Duterte, saying the traffic congestion in Metro Manila “impedes progress and leads to a situation where billions are lost daily in fuel cost, man hours and opportunities.”
The bill also aims to empower Mr. Duterte to reorganize the Metro Manila Development Authority to make it more effective, innovative and responsive to the traffic crisis in Metro Manila. MMDA is one agency that has failed to live up to its role in meeting the demands of a growing metropolis.
The government must also use its powers to accelerate the construction of roads and rail systems and penalize companies for any delay in the job. It should start relocating provincial bus stations along major roads like Edsa to decongest the metropolis.
The riding public deserves a break from the traffic chaos after being long neglected by the callous Aquino administration.