• A right answer nobody wants to hear

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    BACK in 2013 and on one occasion last year, President BS Aquino 3rd briefly found himself buried under a heap of scorn for laughing off Metro Manila’s appalling traffic congestion as a sign of the country’s positive economic growth.

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    In what was perhaps a sign that he really does intend to try to be the Aquino clone the Liberal Party wants, outgoing DILG Secretary and presidential aspirant Mar Roxas repeated the dubious-sounding assertion last week as the guest speaker at a meeting of the Philippine Sugar Technologists Association in Cebu.

    “This is a problem in a sense that arises from prosperity. Because there is money. Because there is economic activity,” Roxas said, according to news reports.

    Roxas explained that during his tenure as Secretary of Trade and Industry (2000-2003), 60,000 vehicle sales in one year “was a big year;” in 2014, about 260,000 additional vehicles hit Philippine roads, with a further 300,000 projected for this year. Roxas went on to point out that congestion is not limited to the nation’s streets and highways. In 2014, 50 million domestic air tickets were sold, equivalent to about half of the population, and, as even Roxas had to admit, far beyond the capacity of the existing air transport infrastructure.

    The idea that congestion is a positive economic sign is infuriatingly counterintuitive, because waiting in a blocks-long line to board a train or spending an hour or more to make a trip of four or five kilometers in no way feels like progress. The negative economic impact of traffic congestion has even been quantified; an estimate by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) last year estimated the daily loss in Metro Manila (including the neighboring provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite) at P2.4 billion, or about P876 billion per year.

    Nevertheless, the assertion is technically correct: According to a report by INRIX, a data management company that specializes in road traffic data, there is an obvious correlation between the number of vehicles on the road and GDP growth. There are a few exceptions, and the degree of correlation varies, but in general an increase in traffic and faster economic growth go together in any country. Which one is the cause and which is the effect, the INRIX report does not speculate.

    Backward-looking
    And therein lies the point that has always been missed by President Aquino, and has apparently eluded his would-be successor: Traffic congestion is not a key performance indicator, an accomplishment to take smug pride in while it perceptibly worsens, but rather an indicator of demand for infrastructure. For more than five years it has been treated as an afterthought rather than a forward-looking priority. If that were not the case, the Aquino Administration would not be trying to make up for lost ground all at once in an election year by allocating a huge amount – ostensibly almost P800 billion – to infrastructure-related projects in this year’s national budget.

    Roxas’ comments last week, in which he highlighted the increase in the country’s capital spending over the past five years rather than offer any suggestions of how he would actually manage infrastructure development, were not encouraging. That was especially so since whatever was spent was clearly insufficient to keep up with traffic growth.

    The problem of traffic congestion affects everyone, and it is one of the few areas in which even Aquino’s most loyal and forgiving supporters agree “more of the same” will not be enough from the next president. Mar Roxas – or any other candidate, for that matter – will greatly improve his or her election chances by keeping that in mind.

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    16 Comments

    1. Hanggat naririyan si abnoy at mga galamay nyang Lapiang Pork ay walang mangyayaring mabuti sa
      ating bayan. Puro mga mandurugas yang mga kaalyado nya sa pangunguna ni aBAD, Pork
      Drilon, MarTapobre at hunyangong
      Belmonte. Mga eksperto sa Palusot at pagtatago sa mas malaking Pork Barrel na gagamitin
      sa 2016 eleksyon.

    2. While Abad is screwing around with the taxpayers’ money, Pinoy’s Government has been sound asleep for the last five years and ignoring his bosses with our future mired in deep shit and now they are asking to give them another 12 years to screw us all over again. That’s Daang Matuwid that has become a virtual parking lot due to traffic congestion.

    3. danilo de leon on

      until now nobody in the government wants to admit that there is one primary source of traffic n
      congestion in metro manila and other major cities in the country – the jeepney. get rid of the jeepney and major throroughfares, secondary and interior streets will be free and edsa is relieved of the tremendous volume of private vehicles who prefer to bear the slow pace of traffic in edsa rather than go through and slug it out with the jeepneys in the alternate roads outside edsa. local and city governments should field and operate city owned buses to ferry commuters in their own areas. but every administration is scared of the jeepney. and even try to glorify this road monster and abomination.

    4. What a dumb way of evaluating the traffic jam as a positive sign of economic ‘boom’. I am far from being an econimic analyst, but whoever made that conclusion must be from ‘outer space’ or, just plain “outre”!

    5. mario san antonio on

      what a twisted notion! did they not anticipate this problem of overcrowding of our streets by more cars? what are those highly paid traffic experts doing? they anticipated an economic growth but failed to see its effects on our streets. taking pride in economic progress while at the same time blaming it as the cause of more traffic congestion, without the corresponding action plan to correct it, is pure stupidity and a clear reflection of leadership lacking foresight. and this is the administration/tuwid na daan they are pushing forward.

      • sinabi mo pa mario san antonio. boy sisi and his super alalay and most probably the one telling boy sisi what to do( he is the (im) defacto president for the last 5 years) sat on all the infra projects. they relied on PPP which in turn would result in expensive toll fees for the ordinary citizen. they said there was not enough money for these BUT THEY HAVE TRILLION PESO PORK FOR BOY SISI ALONE AND ALMOST TWO HUNDRED BILLION FOR PORK OF THE SENATORS AND CONGRESSMEN. had they used this amount for infra since the first year of boy sisi, there would be less gridlock in traffic and if the roads are toll roads the fees to be shouldered by juan de la cruz would not be as expensive as the toll fees to be charged by the PPP proponent. now in his last year and a half, the extension of skyway or connecter roads are being built at the same time causing traffic gridlocks all day long especially if the rains fall and streets become flooded.

    6. unutil ang gobyerno.. walang magawang paraan sa mga problema ng mga taong majority ay nagbabayad ng tax… dapat ialis na rin ang tax…

    7. Geoffrey Hudson on

      Having recently arrived in the Philippines, I am disgusted at the approach to the traffic problems in Manila. The traffic lights are out of sync, there are amateurs directing traffic, there are jeepneys spewing toxic exhausts, there are buses whose drivers think they are in a Formula 1 vehicle when they finally have a few metres of clear road.
      This is not to mention that when I counted a sample of 100 private vehicles, 72 !!! of them contained one person…the driver.
      The answer to me is simple..make one lane for buses, motorcycles and taxis ONLY. Introduce heavy fines for drivers who break the rules.
      The politicians in this country have a world-wide reputation for their corruptability…they also need to get their heads out of the traffic sands.

    8. Pointing out the defects and failings of the government is one thing, but spending ones energies to give birth to negative spirit that consumes some columnists is another matter. These columnists claims to be Christians. Are they exchanging the doctrines they insinuate to believe for sake of readership, notoriety, or relevance?

    9. Politician’s will say something just to say something…..without meat and bones. That’s how they make lots of money by masking the real problem instead of solving the problem heads on. That’s also the media’s fault by buying of what they said instead of doing in depth investigation of how and what’s going on under the table. Most uninform voters always believe with all those sugary rhetoric as long as they get some kind compensation during the election day. Money talks….politics is a dirty profession, the only candidates that win and survives must have money and connection from the elites.

    10. That reply by Roxas was not solving the traffic problem. It was justifying the problem. God forbids he wins the presidency, we could expect a virtual stand still on the streets of Metro Manila.

    11. Dapat pala hindi manalo si Roxas kundi bunton bunton ang traffic at baka hindi na makalabas ng garahe ang kotse ng bawat tao!

    12. What excellent advice this is for those wishing to hire the right person for the right position. In an interview both sides bring expectations to the mix and it is so important that an opportunity is provided for both to be clear about what they expect. Interviewers need also to be honest about the position and what if has to offer the applicant and also the potential it offers for the person to use all of the skills and qualifications that have been set as a requirement for the position.

    13. Sufferings as indication of progress is monkey excuse for incompetence. Aquino and Mar Roxas death will be the dawn of progress. Incompetents is dead and` buried. Bury the LP of Aquino and Roxas comes 2016 election.

      • DO NOT VOTE FOR ANY CANDIDATE ESPOUSING THE DAAN MATUWID. WE ALL KNOW IT IS JUST A SHAM SLOGAN. REJECT ALL THE CANDIDATES OF THE LP or the LAPIANG PORK even if their senate lineup consists of capable individuals. these individuals will just protect boy sisi after june 30, 2016 and will just do what the old congress does which is raid the treasury with schemes to hide the pork.
        DO NOT FORGET MAR aka BOY PICKUP. HE STARTED THE DETERIORATION OF THE SERVICE OF MRT-LRT, THE DETERIORATION OF THE AIRPORTS AND THE TRAFFIC AT THE RUNWAYS, LACK OF VEHICLE PLATE NUMBERS AND CARD FOR DRIVER’S LICENSE, PROLIFERATION OF COLORUM BUSES IN EDSA THUS CAUSING TRAFFIC JAMS, A DISASTER IN MANAGING DISASTERS LIKE THE ZAMBOANGA REBELLION OF MNLF AND THE YOLANDA TYPHOON, UNCONTROLLED PROLIFERATION OF ILLEGAL DRUGS, HIGH CRIME RATE DUE TO USE OF ILLEGAL DRUGS, ETC. KUNG GUSTO NYONG ITULOY PA ANG MGA ITO (TWID NA DAAN DAW) AY IBOTO NYO SI MAR aka BOY PICKUP