THE Transportation secretary, Arthur Tugade, told the Metro Manila Development Authority and the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) to work together in managing the road traffic in Metro Manila. Others like the Land Transportation Office and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board will also, we understand, join in to operate under one chain of command. If all authorities concerned with road traffic one way or another will work under one chain of command, it will make issuing orders easy, the HPG chief, Sr. Supt. Antonio Gardiola told a press conference.
Such reorganization as well as the idea to demarcate Metro Manila into 10 traffic sectors, each headed by a director could indeed simplify management procedures and improve administrative efficiency.
The Duterte administration has also pledged, as soon as taking charge of the nation, to tackle the perennial traffic congestion haunting metro cities, particularly in and around the national capital, and remedy it in the next two to three years through an infrastructure development program with construction work carried out round-the-clock every day of the week.
All these are heartening initiatives. But many other initiatives are also needed if the traffic congestion in metro cities is to become bearable.
Infrastructure building, in which road construction will be a major part, will go on, we hope, throughout the entire term of the Duterte presidency. It will, of course, create new jobs and contribute to the growth of our gross domestic product and, hopefully, lead the country to become a tiger economy. While achieving all that is great, the traffic congestion can still remain a worse headache by more road space encouraging increasing car ownership as a comfortable daily transport for commuting between home and workplace. This exactly is at the root of the worsening traffic congestion.
Imposing restrictions on car ownership or driving around town, at the same time, are controversial topics that call for a well thought-out policy initiative.
Meanwhile, Secretary Tugade has said strict implementation of traffic rules would be the easiest solution to decongest Metro Manila’s roads.Yes, indeed; but we also need to ensure that all motorists know traffic rules. Here, the policy of granting driving license after a few days of driving lessons and a road test needs to be reviewed and replaced with much more rigorous conditions.
Conduct a random road check to verify if all motorists know the meaning of markings on the road, other traffic signs and hand signals to be used at intersections without traffic lights as well as their understanding of road courtesy. So, we see a glimmer of hope now in what Secretary Tugade has said for everyone to hear.
That is, strict implementation of traffic rules would be the easiest solution to decongest Metro Manila’s roads. As he proceeds to ensure that the new action team he is organizing tidies up the traffic mess, he should also consider another essential measure, which is this: Driving licenses are issued for a maximum period of three years.
Therefore, every license currently valid will come up for renewal during the six-year term of the present administration. This is an opportunity to make every license holder to take both a written and practical test, which will ensure that all motorists are driving-literate. If this very essential requirement can be met, we are on to happy driving.