Thinking Outside the Box
To ease the traffic in Metro-Manila, the authorities’ common sense solution is to lessen the vehicles that use the road. Less road user, less traffic. But, is it really that simple?
They started with the “Odds and Even vehicle coding system” that prohibits vehicles having a certain license plate ending from using the road. This is done on a rotating basis. Those who can afford bought extra vehicles with different license plate ending to go around these regulations.
Last August 2013, President Aquino signed Executive Order No. 67 ordering the establishment of Interim Transport Terminals in three sites for the North, South and Southwest bus lines coming from the provinces entering Metro-Manila. Suppose to be, once inside the metropolis, riding public should use the Metro Rails System as well as city buses and jeeps.
The Manila Metro Manila Authority and Manila City Government banned provincial buses from entering the city. It eased the Manila traffic substantially but caused a lot of uproar from bus operators, bus drivers, and bus passengers. This regulations caused extra expenses on the bus operators who have to set up a terminal outside the city and passenger themselves who now have longer travel time as they have to get off at the new bus terminals and get another ride and pay additional fares to their final destination.
The implementation of this new regulation did not go without a hitch as President Mayor himself have to explain the situation to the protesting bus drivers who lost significant amount of income and the riding public who were caught unaware of the new law.
It was reported that thousands of passengers coming from Quezon City, Cavite and Batangas were stranded and helpless on the first day MMDA and City of Manila implemented the operation of the Coastal Bus terminal and at the Quezon City Rotunda, the boundary between Quezon City and Manila.
The Metro Rail Transit cannot cope up with the demand of the riding public causing regular breakdowns and delays. Its efforts to modernize was also tainted with corruption resulting in the investigation of its General Manager, Al Vitangol III who has taken a leave of absence as he was charged in a $30-million shakedown attempt on executives of a Czech company that bids on new rail system.
This June 2014, the city government of Manila rose up the ante by implementing a truck ban on trucks carrying ocean going containers within the city where the North and South Harbors, both a major international ocean ports, are located.
The local trucking industry protested the regulations and conducted a strike that paralyzed the international trade system in the country. No international containers are being unloaded and loaded. International shipping vessels have to abandon the Port of Manila to continue to their other destination countries. Some vessels stayed within Manila Bay waiting for their vessel to be unloaded and loaded but were forced to pay exaggerated amount to stay within the port. After a few weeks of strike, truckers that haul containers are finally back and working, only after doubling and even tripping their hauling charges due to les runs they can do with the truck ban.
One breakdown in the cycle causes catastrophic effects in international logistic system which works on schedules.
Now to put more problems to the problems, the Philippine Bureau of Internal Revenue ordered all customs broker to register and get accreditation with the tax agency before conducting business at the port.
This of course caused more burdens to the customs brokers who lost significant amount of income from the bottlenecks at both Ports of Manila. Their planned strike was aborted.
The new regulations will help the Philippine government collect more taxes.
The whole system is on total disarray at the moment and perhaps the government feels to might as well put all the drastic changes to the system and get it over with in one stride.
The solutions are forthcoming starting with the opening of Bureau of Customs on weekends starting June 28, 2014 to unclog the bottlenecks.
The whole problem boils down to corruption and tax collections. There is a traffic problem because the money intended to fix the traffic, through improvements of roads and Metro Rail Transit are going into private pockets.
The government should exert all efforts to stop corruption, spend all collected taxes and duties wisely to improve the roads, ports, and all means of mass transportation. This will minimize traffic and will cause productivity. Productivity means jobs and less tambays in the corners. Less tambays in the corners means safety and security. Peaceful communities mean increase in property values. Increase in property values means economic growth.
With less traffic, balikbayan boxes will be delivered faster. With faster deliveries, companies can increase their shipping prices to realistic levels to cope with the rising prices.