DAVAO CITY: President Benigno Aquino 3rd apologized to the public for the monstrous traffic jams in Metro Manila on Friday last week.
On Monday, Aquino said he will no longer rely on reports and will see the videos of the traffic jams to determine what went wrong.
“When I get back this afternoon, I hope to know and be briefed on exactly what caused the traffic last weekend,” the President told reporters on the sidelines of the Mindanao Inclusive Agribusiness Program launch.
On Friday, thousands of commuters and motorists were trapped in monster traffic jams at the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) from Meycauayan in Bulacan to Balintawak in Quezon City.
Heavy traffic is also expected in the coming days as the government started implementing the 24-hour “last mile truck routes” to decongest the Port of Manila.
President Aquino appealed to the public to be patient and bear the traffic woes or suffer the long-term effects of the port congestion.
“We ask for forgiveness from the public. There is an impact of this congestion on the growth of our economy. We don’t want this thing to exacerbate problems like for instance, increased prices of food because of the difficulty in transport and logistics,” he said.
“Bear in mind that we can sacrifice somewhat here or have longer term effects that everybody will suffer from because of this phenomenon that has happened,” the President added.
Because of a truck ban imposed by the city of Manila, empty container vans owned by shipping lines piled up in Manila ports. This led to more problems because many local and international vessels were unable to dock and unload their cargoes, prompting major shipping lines to boycott the city ports due to lack of berthing spaces.
“It’s a city ordinance that perhaps, nobody envisioned how bad this would amount to,” Aquino said.
The President assured that “everything and anything that has been thought of that can address this congestion problem is being done.”
Last-mile routes open
The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) also on Monday said the opening of the 24-hour last-mile truck routes did not worsen the traffic gridlock in Metro Manila.
MMDA Assistant General Manager Emerson Carlos said traffic flow on the same day was normal.
Last week, the MMDA created Task Force Pantalan to solve the monstrous traffic congestion that was expected with the implementation of the last-mile routes, a scheme that allows trucks given special tags to deliver their cargoes unimpeded to their destinations.
MMDA chairman Chairman Francis Tolentino said the task force will work for two weeks or until September 21.
It is headed by Gen. Allen Bantolo, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) deputy regional director for operations, and MMDA Traffic Discipline Office Director Chris Saruca.
The headquarters of the task force are located at Gwapotel near the Department of Public Works and Highways.
Tolentino said they will jointly monitor four critical areas–A. Bonifacio, C3, R10 and Del Pan Bridge.
He said in order to prevent another traffic nightmare concerning port-related traffic issues, they will open five counterflow lanes starting in Camachile all the way to Del Pan.
On Friday, motorists going to NLEX endured horrendous traffic jams that stretched on for miles starting from Balintawak in Quezon City and from Meycauayan in Bulacan to Quezon City because of the huge number of cargo trucks going north.
The Palace said truckers were ordered to move their empty containers from Manila to Subic.
Malacañang on Saturday apologized for the traffic gridlocks, saying the ports in Manila had to be cleared in preparation for the flood of shipments expected before Christmas.