President Rodrigo Duterte sympathized with commuters due to crippling traffic jams in the Philippine capital, including on Edsa (Epifanio delos Santos Avenue), the busiest highway in the metropolis.
“‘Yung bago akong presidente (During my first days as president), we realized the impact of the Edsa congestion on the lives of the people commuting. Alam mo sa totoo lang, hindi lang masabi-sabi na naawa talaga ako sa tao (Frankly speaking, I cannot just say that I pity commuters),” Duterte said in a speech delivered at the Palace’s Rizal Hall.
“Alam mo hindi para sa atin eh kasi ako, mag-chopper ako kung ayaw ko ng traffic (And this is not for me because I can use chopper during slow traffic). And it’s not me who decides, ‘yung (it’s my) security guys),” he said.
As of August 2019, the Metro Manila Development Authority has recorded a daily average of 405,882 vehicles plying Edsa.
The President, in his latest speech, ordered concerned state agencies, including the Department of Transportation, to introduce innovations to ease traffic congestion in the country’s metropolis.
“Gentlemen, we have to innovate — that’s the word to replace invent, to innovate, how we can survive until the finish line when I shall end my term,” he said.
“‘Yung mga tao na mag-commute hanggang umaga (People commute until wee hours of the morning). The average worker ng gobyerno o (of the government or) private, they go home at about 8 or 9 (p.m.). They ride the bus, ‘pag traffic diyan (and if the traffic is congested), it will take her to arrive something at 11 (p.m.) at any of the junctions there,” he added.
According to Waze’s September 2019 data published in a report by Bloomberg, it took 4.9 minutes to drive one kilometer in the Philippine capital.
Waze Philippines head Sarah Rodriguez earlier said Metro Manila will most likely hold the title of the world’s worst city to drive in for the second consecutive year, based on its 2019 ranking.
On Oct. 30, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Duterte government’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program would help address the perennial problems of traffic jams in Metro Manila.
Around 38 of the 100 flagship infrastructure projects are targeted to be completed by the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term in 2022, according to Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president and chief executive officer Vivencio Dizon last Nov. 13.
Dizon, who concurrently serves as Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs and Projects, said 22 out of 100 key infrastructure projects were “partially operational or substantially completed,” while the remaining 40 percent would be completed “beyond 2020”.
Of the 100 big-ticket infrastructure projects, 35 are underway, 32 will commence construction in the next six to eight months, 21 are in the advanced stages of government approval, and the remaining 12 are in advanced stages of feasibility study.
Roughly PHP4.3 trillion, or half of the PHP9 trillion that will be earmarked for the infrastructure program, will be spent for the implementation of the flagship projects. (PNA)