Metro Manila mayors call for 'harmonized' traffic strategies
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) may be doing a good job in directing EDSA traffic, but mayors of cities traversed by the heavily congested thoroughfare want a more "harmonized" approach to solve traffic woes.
Metro Manila mayors met with the HPG and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Francis Tolentino on Thursday afternoon, September 17, to discuss the new traffic strategies implemented by highway police who began manning 6 "chokepoints" along the 23.8-km highway last week.
These new strategies include the closure of several U-turn slots and adjusting concrete barriers along EDSA – a move that affected the flow of traffic in 6 cities, namely Caloocan, Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasay, Pasig, and Quezon City.
Tolentino said there was a need for a "harmonious" relationship between the HPG and the traffic units of these 6 cities because the HPG's actions on EDSA could affect congestion in secondary roads around the thoroughfare.
Citing traffic conditions in his city, Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos said that the focus on untangling EDSA traffic inadvertently caused bottlenecks at Shaw Boulevard, also another heavily congested area.
"Maganda ang ginagawa ng HPG, pero kailangang magkaroon ng kooperasyon para ma-harmonize. Nakapuntirya tayo sa EDSA. Pero kung minsan, dahil sa EDSA, ang secondary road gaya ng Shaw Boulevard, humahaba naman ang traffic namin," he said.
(What the HPG is doing is commendable, but there is a need for cooperation to harmonize these traffic efforts. We focus on EDSA. But sometimes, because of EDSA, traffic flow in secondary roads like Shaw Boulevard are affected.)
Abalos said that while he sees no problem in trying out traffic experiments to see which strategies would work, these need to be coordinated with all affected local government units.
"It's time to harmonize traffic policies. Everyone has good intentions, but if we try to solve this on our own, by ourselves, it's going to be difficult," he added.
Thursday's meeting aimed to consolidate various ideas and proposals in a bid to solve the worsening traffic problem of Metro Manila, which, experts say, cost the Philippines P2.4 billion a day in productivity losses.
Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista said the HPG, MMDA and local government units will also be looking at possible alternate routes for motorists to avoid passing through EDSA.
Meanwhile, Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno suggested going beyond merely "harmonizing" traffic strategies and instead proposed the creation of a "metropolis unified traffic management system," a single agency that will take charge of the local enforcers from each city.
Moreno said this will help ensure that traffic violators can still be held accountable even if they have crossed over to another city where different ordinances take effect.
"Our suggestion is to give the traffic enforcement of local government units to an agency like the MMDA. So that it's only going to be one law, one penalty and ticketing system, one agency to praise or to take criticism from the public. It will prevent finger-pointing too," he said.
Moreno, however, clarified that this was not the sole solution to the complex traffic problem.
"Will this solve traffic? This is just one measure that can add to the solutions. At the end of the day, we have to build more roads and more reliable public transport systems," he said. – Rappler.com