Walking under the mid-morning sun is a torment. Thousands of commuters found themselves doing this just to get to work and school on an indeed manic Monday.
In a bid to give delegates to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit traffic-free shuttling in Manila, authorities closed several roads that virtually locked down Manila-bound traffic from the southern end of the nation’s capital.
Manila-bound vehicles from Cavite via the Manila-Cavite Expressway (Cavitex), popularly known as Costal Road, piled up as authorities closed the intersection at MIA Road in Parañaque City. Vehicles were diverted to Pacific Drive instead of being allowed to cross the intersection.
Because of the gridlock, commuters were forced to walk to their destinations. Some commuters coming from Parañaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa City and Cavite City were left with no other choice but to get off from whatever they may have been riding and walk a 10-kilometer stretch from the Cavitex toll gate to Epifanio delos Santos Avenue.
The nightmare was aggravated when the Metro Rail Transit 3 suffered a technical glitch during the rush hour.
Junner Bucod, 36, an IT specialist, usually travels two to three
But on Monday, his two and a half hour commute was only good up to the Coastal Mall Metro Bus Station.
Notwithstanding the APEC traffic advisories in the previous weeks, he said he did not expect that the Coastal Road would be paralyzed.
“This is so inhumane. Why do they have to close the whole Coastal Road where thousands of workers are passing through every day?” Bucod asked.
He said, “They said APEC will provide us opportunities. But how will they address the people who are losing their jobs because of traffic? It doesn’t make any sense.”
Bucod chided the APEC organizers for not considering the commuters in their planning.
As much as he wanted to go home, the bus station was already packed with fuming people who are on queues for a bus going back to Cavite.
While many are decrying the supposedly “unexpected and ineffective” traffic rerouting, 64-year-old Elenita Tomagos had a different sentiment.
From Imus, Cavite, she traveled just to watch a movie in a mall in Manila. Despite enduring the long walk and even urinating on the street, she said she completely understands the situation.
“Eh, wala tayong magagawa. Mga bisita iyan eh [We have no choice. We have to accommodate our visitors],” she said, smiling. “Kailangan masaya lang tayo kasi kung hindi, ay wala [There is nothing else to do but to be happy].”
Vicky Ugalino, who works at Pasay City Police Clearance Department and resides in Imus, said she was forced to go home because of the traffic gridlock.
She said Malacañang should have also declared November 16 and 17 as non-working holidays to prevent inconveniences.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) reiterated its advice to public to just stay at home for the duration of the week-long event.
“We advise them to stay home and spare themselves the trouble of being caught in heavy traffic, or adding to the road congestion in the next four days,” Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, spokesman for the PNP and 2015 APEC Security Task Force, said.
He added that heavier traffic is expected on the following days along parts of EDSA, Roxas
Boulevard, Skyway and South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), and roads along the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), where the APEC delegates will pass through.
Among other major thoroughfares that had moderate to heavy traffic on Monday were EDSA Extension, C-5 Road, South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and Skyway.
Commuters on Aguinaldo Highway in Cavite also had a hard time to get a ride because the public utility vehicles were left stranded on their way to Metro Manila.
Traffic is expected to become heavier with the arrival of more APEC delegates.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said authorities will impose a “stop and go” scheme in some major thoroughfares.
Among these are parts of EDSA, Roxas Boulevard, Skyway and SLEX.
Under the scheme, all traffic in these areas will be temporarily stopped to allow APEC convoys to pass through.
MMDA Chairman Emerson Carlos earlier said the “stop and go” scheme aims to speed up the shuttling of APEC delegates to the summit.
According to the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group, the scheme would be implemented until the last day of the summit on Friday.