• Traffic? Yes, the business sector can help

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    Sifting through my daily dose of online education, I came across a guy named Jaime Casap, Google’s Global Education Evangelist, who said, “(d)on’t ask kids what they want to be when they grow up but what problems do they want to solve. This changes the conversation from who do I want to work for, to what do I need to learn to be able to do that.”

    Taking inspiration from this quote, one evening during dinner, I challenged my family to think of a relevant problem and, of course, its plausible solutions. One word in unison came out naturally—traffic.

    Indeed, no one in his right mind can deny that the traffic situation in the metropolis, and even in a good number of our cities across the nation, has already reached unprecedented crisis levels. According to a study made by the Japan International Cooperation Agency in 2014, if no interventions are made immediately, the country’s present losses of P2.4 billion per day in potential income will reach P6 billion by 2030.

    No less than our legislators have acknowledged this unfortunate fact that laws are now being written and hotly debated to address it. In its press release dated Sept. 22, 2016, the House of Representatives stated that there were, to date, a total of 10 House Bills seeking to grant emergency powers to the President to solve the traffic problem. From strict but manageable stop-gap measures, like the extended number coding scheme; the drastic 40 percent ad-valorem tax proposal on the purchase of new vehicles; to the interesting proof-of-parking-space bill, there is no doubt that the government has shifted to a high gear in its fight against the so-called traffic menace.

    However, though government initiative is highly appreciated and, of course, expected, it may be a mistake to think that we are powerless in this fight. Next to the government, the one sector that can make a realistic contribution is business, especially those companies that employ a good number of people. Obviously, more employees would entail more mobility, more mobility, in turn, results in higher traffic.

    If big business groups can tweak their business models or processes and come up with unified solutions that will strictly be practiced by its members, this may have a significant impact in the fight against the worsening traffic situation. Solutions such as flexible working hours, where employees may be required to work in shifts, to reduced work days and work-at-home set-ups where work can be done online or b e output based, may be adopted to optimize and make the use of public roads more efficient. Organized car-pooling systems can be implemented as part of company operations. Business hours may be adjusted or extended to minimize rush hours. Benefits may be given to employees using mass transport like prepaid MRT/LRT cards. Company incentives may also be provided promoting the use of green transportation such as bicycles for employees living near offices.

    The government, on the other hand, can encourage the adoption of these traffic-reduction methods by implementing positive measures from the giving of tax breaks/incentives for companies employing them, to prohibitory ones such as the strict designation of certain roads only for vehicles having more than two passengers. Also, laws strengthening cybersecurity should be created to promote stability and fortify trust in the use of online methods for work.

    These are just some of the myriad of innovative solutions that our employment-generators in partnership with our government can pursue.

    Again the key really is unity if most, if not all business owners, especially the big ones, will decide to adopt these measures – imagine the positive effects that can generate. The solutions are real, and yes, they can be done.

    Lawyer James K. Heffron is a faculty of the Commercial Law Department of the Ramon V. del Rosario-College of Business (RVRCOB), De La Salle University. He may be reached via email at james.heffron@dlsu.edu.ph. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty and its administrators.

    JAMES KEITH HEFFRON

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