Rainy days and traffic

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Moje Ramos-Aquino, Fpm

Moje Ramos-Aquino, Fpm

I have been seeing pictures posted on Facebook of terrible traffic all over Manila, vehicles jammed together at intersections. What happens to the red/orange lines that delineates where vehicles should stop so as not to clog intersections.

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Lack of discipline is the main culprit. Unmindful of others. On the part of motorists who always like to get ahead of others. Even big lorries would squeeze itself in a tiny opening just to get into a good maneuvering position. An FB friend commented that it happens also in Mumbai, Qatar, Lebanon and Cairo among many other third world countries. So what? Should we just be comforted by the fact that we are not the only one disrespecting the rights of other motorist, commuters and pedestrians and families or work waiting for those stranded in this gridlock?

Another equally guilty perpetrator is law enforcements. We have all laws imaginable to keep peace and order in the streets and keep people safe and even happy. But where are the law enforcers, especially when it rains or on busy hours of the day? Here at the corner of V. Mapa St. and Ramon Magsaysay Blvd, there are always about 10-15 law enforcers on stand-by doing nothing but flag down motorists for various “offenses.” They don’t really need to be there—the traffic lights are doing its job and motorists and pedestrians generally follow. Though, as always, there are undisciplined drivers and pedestrians who want to get ahead and do their thing, unmindful that they are not only endangering themselves, they are also putting others in danger.

Other guilty parties are itinerant vendors of water, rugs, cigarettes, candies and others, as well as, those pesky windshield “cleaners.” They run around speeding vehicles, stopping them and forcing them to pay up for “washing” windshields and window glasses with water from we don’t know what source. They are road hazards.

And of course, those blasted cars parked on sidewalks and streets making pedestrians walk right on the road. And worse, sidewalk vendors and karinderias who also occupy whole sidewalks with their customers positioned on the street. Streets has become narrower with them.

Everything all boils down to a selfish mindset. Filipinos think mostly of themselves, their family and those they care about. Never mind the rest of creation. This is very evident in what we do outside our house and workplace esp. on the streets. Jeepney and bus drivers use the streets as their private waiting station and they snake their way in and out of lanes regardless of other motorists. Their reason: “Nagtatrabaho lang kami.” (We are just doing our work.) Selfish. Tricylce drivers speed away noisily even in busy roads where they are not allowed. Selfish. Private vehicle motorists and taxi drivers feel entitled as well and snake their way around streets. Selfish.

Pedestrians simply raise their hands and cross the streets at their leisure, not heeding the red traffic light. I see people crossing the street without even glancing at those lights; they just look at the oncoming vehicles and run across when able. Selfish.

A selfish mindset comes from a negative discipline. Author James McKarns wrote that living a disciplined life, in a negative sense, may seem like we are confined to a mental and physical straitjacket. Discipline is envisioned as something imposed on us to restrict our freedom or remove it entirely.” They don’t want it so they feel defensive—they have the victim mentality. They feel entitled. They are unmindful of others and of traffic rules and regulations—they want instant gratification.

“A positive discipline does exactly the opposite,” writes McKarns. “It promotes our freedom, enhances our fun, creates a sense of adventure, and enables us to have true enjoyment. Our biggest problems result, not from using the good things of this earth, but from our overusing it. That, in reality, is not using but abusing. We should taste, sample, and enjoy all aspects of the wonders about us without expecting too much from them. Discipline provides us with a balanced and correct expectation.”

Discipline is the foundation of societal peace and order. Without discipline, there will always be chaos, even road rage, like we see on our streets everyday.

Last night, coming from a meeting of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, I rode with my friend Virgie Mendoza. Terrible traffic. Horns desperately honking. Vehicles moving inch by inch for what seems to be eternity. Commuters waiting for a ride occupying practically two-thirds of JP Rizal Street in Makati and jeepneys stopping wherever they want—two main causes of the traffic there.

Thank God for our lively discussions and for IPad games, we enjoyed the two-hour drive to Bacood. We were anxious to get home, but we were thinking and experimenting on what to do and which alternate route to take instead of cursing the traffic and blaming government for the rains.

Feedback to moje629@gmail.com.

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1 Comment

  1. I went back to the Philippines about three years ago after being absent for almost 30 years and could not believe the amount of traffic and undisciplined drivers running around in Manila and Makati. I can’t believe how it took me about two hours on an average just to go from one part of the city to the next. The sad part in all of this is the distance that I covered is less than 5 miles or less than 10 km and the car was only going about 20 to 25 miles per hour or about less than 30 or 40 km throughout the entire trip. Basically, a lot of potential productivity time wasted and four hours a day (both to and from) of my life I’ll never get back just sitting in traffic.

    You are right about how some of these drivers are undisciplined and have no respect and conscience towards their fellow travelers. No wonder we are thrown in the third world category. How can we prosper as a nation when commerce and the people’s productivity are hampered by something as mundane as traffic? How am I as a CEO of a company visiting the Philippines for the first or even second time can justify bringing my business or outsourcing to the Philippines knowing what I’m facing logistically? And this is just a fracture of logistics I have to worry about and consider!

    The government and local police really need to crack down on these drivers!! Traffic would run smoother and faster if everyone would just follow the rules/law and stop being a jackass on the road. I have been to Europe, the Americas, and other parts of Asia and have not seen the amount of chaos that is Manila and Makati road system!!!

    People wake up!! If you want to move up in the world and get out of the third world global perspective, you, we as a nation need to change!!!