• Traffic IS fatal, you insensitive clown

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    TRANSPORTATION Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya is one rare specimen, even in a country where the natural population of hilariously unqualified public officials is quite large and diverse.

    Responding to a question during a recent TV news broadcast about the traffic congestion the impending construction of the eastward extension of the LRT-2 commuter line will cause, Abaya breezily dismissed any suggestion that it would be a problem, with the sarcastic observation, “Hindi naman siguro fatal yan,” (“That’s [traffic gridlock]not likely to be fatal.”).

    To eliminate any ambiguity about whether he has even the slightest understanding of the topic at hand—because, as we know, “transparency” and “keeping the public fully-informed” are cherished ideals in this Administration—Abaya went on to add that “not fatal” in his context means “not burdensome to the daily lives of the people.”

    On any given day Abaya could win a prize for being incoherent, but he set a personal record with these latest nuggets of non-wisdom.

    Abaya’s attitude toward traffic congestion—which is an attitude he shares with his immediate predecessor, outgoing Interior Secretary and Liberal Party cannon fodder Mar Roxas, and their common boss President BS Aquino 3rd—is infuriating. His response to the traffic question is the same smirking, self-satisfied reaction one would encounter when confronting the bachelor neighbor whose noisy energetic sexual conquest kept everyone else in the building awake last night: Sorry to have disturbed you, but not really, because you should actually be impressed that I’m getting all kinds of laid over here.

    If the popularity of the subject among the public and local pundits is not already a huge clue as to the true sentiment of the country and its collective lack of appreciation for self-congratulatory dismissal of the congestion issue, Secretary Abaya and his barkada need to be reminded (again, for the nth time) of the hard facts.

    The daily cost to the economy of traffic congestion in the greater Manila area has been reliably estimated at P2.4 billion, but even that figure may be too low: Just this week, the PNP Highway Patrol Group released periodic statistics that show that the incidence of traffic accidents has increased one-and-a-half times from just last year. In the first half of 2015, according to the PNP, there were 11,000 traffic accidents; in all 12 months of 2014, there were 15,572. On average, there is a vehicle ‘incident’ resulting in injury or damage somewhere in the country every 22 minutes. The toll so far for 2015: 567 killed, 5,220 injured. Some allowance for the economic impact of traffic accidents is included in the P2.4 billion ‘congestion cost’ estimate (which was generated by a study supervised by the Japan International Cooperation Agency), but using prior years’ data; thus, the cost is likely higher than we realize.

    Traffic IS fatal, Secretary Abaya; it has been literally fatal to more than 500 of your “bosses,” and it is killing the economy. Traffic density is technically a reasonable proxy for economic activity, but presents far more risk than reward. It is almost axiomatic among stakeholders in the tourism sector that growth is being strangled by traffic congestion, and there is anecdotal evidence that the lagging performance of the local casino industry this year is at least partly attributable to traffic gridlock keeping customers away.

    Just last week, an epic eight-hour traffic jam that virtually cut off all ground access to the airport created such chaos that the story was picked up by at least three international wire services.

    Traffic congestion is not an achievement; it is a crisis which is costing this country an unreasonable amount of money and lives. But like the annoying recent college grad next door who finally convinced that waitress to sleep with him, the perception of the manifestation of positive results among Messrs. Abaya, Roxas, Aquino, et al. is strictly personal, and actually detrimental to everyone else. We need to get up and go to work in the morning; if you can’t help make that easier, the least you could do is not make it harder with all the thumping and yelling.

    ben.kritz@manilatimes.net

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    20 Comments

    1. Federalism is a medium to long-term solution. How? Make the regions more financially capable of doing projects for the good of those living there. Right now, only a maximum of 40% of the national wealth goes to the LGUs leaving 60% for the discretion of your Abnoy and his PDAF genius Abad. Reverse that ratio or maybe make the ratio even more restricting to just 30% for control by an Abnoy and an Abad. Then again, if we have federalism, the position that Abnoy now holds will be abolished. The senatongs and tonggressmen will be reduced drastically so that a parliament headed by a prime minister will become head of government. Federal states will have autonomy and control of their destiny. People in the provinces would see more job opportunities in their localities. Migration to MM will be mitigated if not halted altogether. We can then see a more balanced distribution of vehicles throughout the country. Is federalism on the agenda of any declared presidentiable? Siyempre, the answer is no. Therefore if Roxas, or Poe, or Binay gets to be president in 2016, we’ll have more of the same. And more likely, worse than what we have now. Intiendes amigos? Pero, pero, pero . . . meron tayong inaantay na mangyayari na maaaring solusyon para mabawasan ang populasyon at mga sasakyan sa MM. 8.3 magnitude earthquake . . . Sige, dasal pa more!!!

    2. Hey, you know what’s NOT fatal? Getting run over by a speeding vehicle, getting crushed in between two vehicles stuck in traffic, or even being exposed to lots of “eco-friendly” vehicle fumes…… :v

      That’s right, not only (P)Abaya deserves that, but every single one of their blund supporters; or at least those who voted for the people who placed people like (P)Abaya in power……. :v

    3. That’s because he does not use public transportation and could care less what the riding public goes through…some on a daily basis..

    4. Panch Puckett on

      We just have too much vehicles on the road and no new roads . Too many empty buses are clogging Edsa and too many tricycles blocking side streets. We need more LRTs and MRTs . We need to follow Bangkok who was in our same situation before.

    5. Why can’t the Transportation Department see that the traffic problem is also caused by increased VOLUME of private vehicles which carry 1-2 passengers along the main thoroughfares? Where do these private vehicles park at the end of the day … supposedly in personal carports at the village levels in Metro-Manila. But there are more private vehicles than carports or garages. And many people have purchased private vehicles even without corresponding carports or garages, just to evade the MMDA number-coding scheme along the main thoroughfares. There must be deterrent measures for improper and illegal parking (or what we call vehicle squatting) at the barangay level, like designation of parking slots along the side streets but avoiding the front of and across driveways, and in corners and intersections, plus charging overnight parking fees along these side streets from midnight to 8:00am the next day. Another deterrent measure is to require proof of carport in the registration of vehicles. Another deterrent measure is to increase registration fees and CTPL insurance of 10 year old vehicles and older.

      • One of the reason behind increase in private car is because of our inefficient mass transit system. Who wants to go thru traffic if you can travel faster and more conveniently by train. Unfortunately, our mismanaged and fast dilapidating trains is too dangerous and inefficient to do their job well.

    6. I wonder if he would feel the same way lying in an ambulance trying to get to hospital after suffering a heart attack…..

      He should spend some time in a car without a police / bodyguard escort and try to get from one end of Edsa to the other one evening.

      Many of the individuals who work for me have to travel several hours each day to come to and get home from work. Hours that they sacrifice with their families, friends, exercising or relaxing just to provide for their families.

      Also an economy killer as noted in the article….

      Obviously not a servant of the people but another politician who feels his position provides him with some sort of privilege.

    7. why are our MOST incompetent leaders still not doing hara-kiri? waiting for abnoy to show the way? WE STOP ELECTING LP (LAPIANG PORK) IN 2016 ELECTION.

    8. May topak nga talaga ang nasa puwesto sa gobyerno natin, wala kang mapiling magaling puro palpak!

    9. Dragon Scholar on

      Abaya, Roxas and Noynoy are worse than insensitive. Insensitivity indicates a failure to grasp the gravity of people’s wrath. No, they are more of the “Whatcha gonna do about it?” Sadly, it is all too accurate. They flick us the collective finger and all we can do is squawk, because they control the courts and the Ombudsman. I despair of ever getting any resolution as long as the Liberal Party is in power.Our only hope is to see to it that they no longer will be after 2016.

    10. Are you assuming a causative connection between heavy traffic in Manila and an increased rate of traffic accidents nationwide? That really doesn’t make much sense. You’d be better off pointing out that traffic can be fatal if it makes it impossible to transport emergency patients to hospitals, etc.

      Certainly governments for the last 50 years have done far too little to build both road and public transport infrastructure, or to control the insanely chaotic not-so-public transport system. One of the ironies, of course, is that infrastructure to alleviate traffic creates more traffic when it’s under construction. Haven’t heard anyone propose a good way around that.

      • *Facepalm*…. you missed the point entirely in this article. Focus on what Abaya said recently, not the 50 years history of road and public transport infrastructure.
        Focus man… focus!

    11. A suggestion if you please. Why not make your erudite thoughts a daily fare in my lowly site? I assure you not only da riding public would welcome it but the whole of an enraged citizenry to include fed-up government functionaries left wandering aimlessly in what some call the D’ crooked boulevard. !!!

    12. Tricycle Driver on

      Very insightful and humorous, Uncle Ben, but I highly doubt if Abaya, if he reads this at all, will even recognize himself in this commentary if the title had been “Abaya is an Insensitive Clown!”

    13. Dear Mr. Kritz,

      You got it right, your today’s column title is a perfect description of Secretary Abaya, an “Insensitive Clown”!

      More power!