Evacuating Metro Manila
IF people remain hopeful traffic conditions in Metro Manila (MM) will improve after current road infrastructures are built, they have a big let-down coming their way. Commuters of public conveyances, e.g., jeeps, taxis, buses, FX, MRT, LRT, etc., will have to wrestle with counting the ways they will have to be creative with their time as the queues and hours continue increasing, day in and out. And it will not be a case of the problem getting worse before it gets better.
The facts need telling. The conditions will deteriorate exponentially as the years move forward. Current initiatives are palliative solutions to ease traffic flow but not to deter the impending yearly flood of vehicles into a defined road space. The daily economic loss due to traffic is at 2.4 billion according to a senator. Remember that traffic and heavy volume of vehicles is just the manifestation of several causes.
The government is to be blamed for lack of forward-looking projects many decades back, e.g., several “EDSAs” crisscrossing the metropolis, more bridges spanning the Pasig, prohibition of settlements along the banks, a circumferential expressway around Laguna de Bay, etc. The proximate cause of a “no solution” to traffic in MM is unmitigated population migration from the provinces into the cities. And this is due to a highly favored application of projects and investments focused in MM and Luzon.
China with a population close to 1.6 billion people is clamping down on its capital. They have decided to limit the population in Beijing to 23 million. In the Philippines, with 100-million population, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is predicting that by year 2020, MM will welcome 30M people. This is not including 21% (6.3M people) expected “informal settlers” residing in prime urban settings. Brutally speaking, they are considered squatters in Beijing, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Taipei, etc., and will not be tolerated, empowered, or coddled to vote for lack of actual residence. Under such prospects, public hospitals and schools will be inundated and charity services swamped. We will witness worsening garbage, pollution, crime, cough and cold, allergy, asthma, and flooding situations in MM.
It is bad enough with 2.5M cars and about 350,000 vehicles using EDSA today. There are 23 malls in a 32-km stretch, excluding additional sky-scraping condos being built. Make the projections and it is a nightmare. And this run-away urban development is replicated in many parts of the metropolis, disregarding zoning, land use, easements, and set-backs. Executive and city council permits and land classifications are for sale to every business venture that can afford political clout. Even Ninoy Aquino Airport is a victim of permanent residence by “informal settlers” in its periphery. This is explains partly why we cannot expand and build another run-way in the area. The result is also traffic congestion in the landing and take-off!
Time to evacuate the concrete jungle and grime of MM and transfer to the provinces. Business should relocate as well, to initiate a long process of decongesting MM.