metro manila traffic 1

Gates of Hell

I’m not going to discuss about religion but my topic is closer to hell. The title is a phrase that Dan Brown used to describe Manila in his latest novel Inferno, in which our politicians and government officials immediately condemn and defended their uselessness. I mean, our beautiful country.

I’m going to talk about traffic as most, if not all, drivers here in Metro Manila are feeling devilish on the road today. Note that it’s not only on rush hours. Traffic is now present anywhere and anytime just like the devil himself.

The INC already left EDSA weeks ago, but the traffic remained.

With people’s desperation with the traffic, everybody’s becoming a traffic expert. Including me. Although I don’t travel on Metro Manila area, we have our own version of traffic here in our place.

Our government officials are announcing several possible solutions to the problem. But I was wondering about one thing: why look for a new solution instead of solving the current problems that are causing traffic? It’s like spraying an air freshener on your home but not throwing out the filthy garbage inside the house.

It’s like putting an air freshener inside the bathroom without flushing the toilet. You get my point.

What I would like to say is that fix the most basic things that are causing traffic first before we spend for more improvements. By the way, our politicians like buying new projects anyway because they can pocket the half of the project budget.

Discipline

Is it really that hard for us to have discipline? Although Filipinos lack discipline in most areas in our lives but let’s just narrow the problem with the traffic. I travel every day to take my wife to the office and pick her in the afternoon. And in the short time and distance, I can still see undisciplined drivers who still refuse to show simple road courtesy. Examples are not letting the crossing road open even if their lane is having a stagnant traffic. Because of this, it will only cause another road traffic which the crossing road can’t get pass because the vehicles on the traffic lane refused to give way. I experienced this once. We were passing the crossing road but we can’t pass through because our way was blocked by vehicles on traffic. We were even given a brilliant advice by one of the drivers on the traffic road. He said that we should take the other road (which will take us longer kilometers and wasted fuel) instead of just giving us space to pass through.

(I’m not sure if I made sense so here is a picture to give you an idea.)

traffic

Aside from giving courtesy to other drivers, there are still lots of things to fix in our roads that involves discipline. Especially to public vehicles.

Loading and Unloading

metro manila trafficAlthough some streets already have Bus Stops and Loading/Unloading spots, I believe we still need to add designated areas for public vehicle stops. We are very used in our habit of loading and unloading anywhere. The funny thing is that our buses and Jeepneys are acting like cabs where it can stop anywhere. Buses and jeepneys can’t do the same because they carries several passengers. If all the 30 passengers in the jeepney will alight individually, it will cause 30 stops which will affect other vehicles and will obviously affect their fuel consumption too (I bet they don’t realize that). The 30 stops are only for alighting passengers. It doesn’t include individual new riding passengers. And if we count 30 passengers for a jeepney, how much more a bus? Makati has a strict bus stops. But most of the places in Metro Manila still don’t have proper bus stops. Now, imagine a huge bus loading and unloading passengers on a narrow street. Buses don’t just run on large highways. Check the route of the buses that are taking the Quiapo – Taytay route.

And if they are taking the large highway route like EDSA; the wider the road, the larger their terminal is.

metro manila traffic 1

If you’ll ride the bus and will travel EDSA, it will take you almost half a day from Makati to Caloocan. Yes there are legitimate traffic problems on EDSA but it is impossible not to notice buses clogging each crossings and stop lights. Each stops will take you 15 to 20 minutes, believe it or not, just filling up the bus with passengers. And it’s not just a single bus. There are hundreds of buses traveling EDSA back and forth and this includes illegally operating buses. Imagine them clogging each crossings and traffic lights along EDSA.

metro manila traffic 2I must admit that the undisciplined loading/unloading problem should not be blamed entirely on drivers. Because some or most passengers complain if the driver kept them wait or made them walk more meters by alighting them farther than their destination. So it is clearly that we are all to be blamed for this.

Law Enforcement

I’m not just talking about visibility of police and traffic enforcers. I’m talking about strongly enforcing the law. I believe that we have enough traffic laws. But the problem is seriously enforcing it.

Local governments put traffic signs but they don’t force drivers to follow it. We see these illegal terminals anywhere because no one is getting punished. We see colorum (illegal, unregistered) buses comfortably travelling our roads and highways because they are not being punished (because government officials regularly receives an amount from bus operators). They even have the guts to bully smaller vehicles that are legally travelling the roads.

Consistency

We already saw several times that the government implemented a traffic law. We can see how officials are enthusiastically enforcing the new law. We see them on TV. Lots of motorists are being caught or warned. After a week, aaaand… they’re gone. “Ningas kugon” in our terms. Starting something without finishing it. A week after the law was launched, we are back to where we were; to our old habits.

Conclusion

Discipline and Law Enforcement are two contradictory terms and idea. If we have discipline, we won’t be in desperate of law enforcement. Needing law enforcement means that we lack discipline. But we need both. Implementing the law also requires discipline in the part of the government and the officials.

These two are very simple and basic laws of road traffic. If we can’t fix them, nothing will fix our traffic problem. Even if we widen our roads, add more highways and flyovers, if we can’t follow simple rules and give simple courtesy, our billion-worth of projects are useless. We are just making our politicians richer. Just look into these images. They are not hard-to-solve puzzles.

I’m not saying that fixing these areas will solve our traffic problem. But I want to see orderliness first before we invest on expensive traffic projects. And I’m sure that discipline will make a huge difference, not only on traffic, but also on every aspect in our life as Filipino.

P.S. As long as I’m not seeing a change in these two areas, I won’t believe that our country is on its way to progress. Discipline is one of the most important ingredient for progress. Sayonara!

Nio2 “Please share daddy’s story!”

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