THE Department of Transportation (DOTr) should not wait for Congress to pass the bill granting President Duterte emergency powers but should put in place measures to ease traffic congestion, Sen. Grace Poe said.
Poe, who chairs that Senate public services committee, noted that while the Senate intends to have the emergency powers bill passed before congress goes on a break in December, the DOTr and the agencies under it should start coming up with solutions to the traffic problem.
“There are many things the DOTr can do even without emergency powers, if they will just look for ways,” Poe said.
The senator said the DOTr is trying put so much hype on the need for emergency powers but in reality, it would take the government years for it to accomplish the projects and programs under the emergency powers.
While Poe agrees that the passage of the emergency powers bill would help government speed up the procurement and the bidding process, the public would not feel the effects of the traffic improvement schemes until the needed infrastructure projects have been completed.
This is the reason Poe is calling on transportation and local government officials to act on the congestion problem now while Congress is drafting the measure.
The senator said by just enforcing traffic laws seriously, the DOTr and local government units could effectively ease vehicle congestion along major thoroughfares in Metro Manila.
Poe cited the practice of some commuters occupying two to three lanes of Edsa while waiting for a ride as one of the causes of traffic slowdown along the highway. She said traffic enforcers could easily address the problem by asking pedestrians to use the designated loading and unloading areas put up by the government.
The DOTr according to Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto would need P1.27 trillion to implement projects and programs under the emergency powers. But Recto learned that the DOTr has yet to come up with a decongestion plan the department would implement once Congress grants emergency powers.
It was also revealed that the DOTr wants to expand its traffic management powers to cover air as well as sea traffic not only in Metro Manila but in other urbanized cities nationwide.
But when Recto asked if they already have plans or have pinpointed specific areas they would be prioritizing, the DOTr said that they have yet to identify them.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) recently claimed travel time by private vehicle on Edsa, from Monumento in Caloocan City to Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City was shortened by seven minutes. Based on the speed test conducted by MMDA last September a private car took one hour and 19 minutes to traverse the 26-kilometer Edsa compared to the one hour and 26 minutes last July.
The MMDA however did not indicate the exact time it conducted the speed test. Motorists using Edsa normally spend more than two hours from Cubao in Quezon City to Ayala Avenue in Makati City during rush hour.