With Metro Manila’s traffic woes expected to worsen with major road infrastructure projects scheduled to be undertaken in the metropolis this year, student leaders from the University of the Philippines (UP) have called for long-term solutions to decongest the metropolis through the relocation of airports and seaports to nearby provinces like Cavite.
Trucking companies, for one, have gone on a de facto strike due to the limitations placed on them in their use of Metro Manila thoroughfares.
UP student leader Red Maines, vice president for Student Affairs of the Respect Equals Discipline (RED), a multi-sector group of concerned citizens advocating “Respect Equals Discipline” on Philippine roads, said that with Metro Manila’s growing population, “short-term, band aid solutions” would not be enough to ease the capital’s traffic problems—the UP National Center for Transportation Studies claims traffic gridlocks fritter away P140 billion in losses yearly.
RED advocates say that studies show that the P140-billion losses stem from wasted gasoline, lost labor hours, employment of traffic aides and wasted electricity; the indirect losses refer to withdrawal of potential foreign investments, missed business opportunities and reduced capital inflow.
“Traffic congestion and infrastructure development are hallmarks of a newly industrialized country, and these require a newly industrialized country approach. We have to think big and assume that the country will continue to grow and plan accordingly,” stressed Maines, who is also the Convenor of the UP Diliman League of College Councils Volunteer Corps.
“’Di na pwede ang sari-sari store approach na tingi-tingi ang pag solusyon sa traffic. [The piecemeal approach won’t solve traffic]. We should seriously consider adopting the model used by other growing economies in Asia like Malaysia and Thailand, and relocate our airports and seaports to nearby provinces outside Metro Manila, like Cavite,” added Nat Malit, an officer of the UP Diliman College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (CSSP) Student Council.
According to fellow UP Diliman CSSP Student Council officer Jet David, data shows that the relocation of airports and seaports to a nearby province like Cavite, home to the Cavite Export Processing Zone, could substantially reduce vehicular traffic in Metro Manila.
“A huge source of traffic in Metro Manila are the thousands of trucks and other vehicles plying Metro Manila’s streets to get from one point in Metro Manila to the other,” said David.
“If we relocate our seaport and airport outside Metro Manila, 10,000 trucks that travel from the North Harbor to the South of Metro Manila will be reduced. If you take out the airport, you remove the 40,000 vehicles that go in and out of the NAIA area,” he added.
Huge losses due to truck ban
Meanwhile, millions in revenues of the two largest collection districts of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) have been affected by the expanded Manila truck ban.
Initial reports from the Port of Manila (POM) showed that only P134.4-million was generated on the first day of the truck ban, which is 47 percent lesser than the P253-million during the previous days.
Meantime, the Manila International Container Port (MICP) has only generated P262.8-million or 27-percent decrease from the P360-million.
The BOC noted that the MICP was only able to release four trucks on Monday from the daily average of 2,150, while no container vans exited POM, from an average of 1,200 container vans from February 1 to 21, 2014.
The POM and the MICP are the two biggest ports in the country in terms of cargo volume and customs revenues, accounting for about 48 percent of total collections of the entire agency, the BOC said.