Emergency powers to help gov’t solve traffic: I-ACT

MANILA -- The Inter-Agency Council on Traffic (I-ACT) believes that the passage of emergency powers would help the government effectively address the country's traffic crisis.

With a recent study of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) showing that Metro Manila traffic is costing the country PHP3.5 billion daily, the council reiterated that a comprehensive approach needs to be implemented to solve the traffic situation.

The recently reported rise to PHP3.5 billion a day in economic losses due to traffic is indicative that the problem has indeed reached a national crisis level that warrants a whole-of-nation approach for its resolution and avert its rise even further. This has to be addressed quickly and decisively to protect the economic gains attained by government, said I-ACT head of communications Elmer Argano in a phone interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) Friday.

At least the Traffic Crisis Act would be helpful. Very important yan because as we have observed maraming players, iba't ibang galaw(many stakeholders are offering their respective proposals). It is important to unify, to come up with one command to make a concerted effort in solving traffic, he explained.

The I-ACT is in the process of crafting a comprehensive solution that includes building necessary infrastructure networks and clearing illegally parked vehicles and other obstructions along secondary roads.

It has also intensified the implementation of the Tanggal Bulok, Tanggal Usok campaign that aims to phase out old and dilapidated jeepneys as part of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

As of Feb. 22, the I-ACT has apprehended a total of 1,904 PUVs for various violations ranging from defective parts, illegally franchised or "colorum" vehicles, to smoke belching since the campaign's launch last January 8.

The Traffic Crisis Act, which is pending in Congress, will give vast powers to the Transportation Secretary as Traffic Chief.

The Traffic Chief shall formulate, coordinate, and monitor policies, standards, programs, and projects to rationalize existing public transport operations, infrastructure requirements, the use of thoroughfares, safe movement of persons and goods, the administration and implementation of all traffic enforcement operations, traffic engineering services, and traffic education programs.

He is also tasked to harmonize the provisions of existing laws related to traffic management, road use, and all rules, regulations, ordinances, and orders duly issued and implemented by covered agencies.

The bill also contains provisions on route rationalization for PUVs; revocation and modification of PUV franchises and permits; suspension of PUV franchising authority; government takeover of franchises; and traffic impact plan.

Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said it is committed to pursue various infrastructure projects under the Build, Build, Build program of the Duterte administration to improve the traffic situation in Metro Manila.

As far as DOTr is concerned, we are doing all we can to expedite the completion of infrastructure projects that will help decongest Metro Manila. That is why we are pushing for projects, like the Taguig ITX (Integrated Terminal Exchange), ParaAaque ITX, South East Metro Manila Expressway, and the addition of railway lines, among others, DOTr Public Information Office (PIO) Director Godess Hope Libiran said in a text message to reporters.

Like what Secretary Tugade always says, solving traffic problems requires not just one solution but a basket of solutions. Transport infrastructure is one thing. These, coupled with citizen cooperation, will help address the issue, she said.

In its report, JICA said the worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila is costing PHP3.5 billion per day, highlighting the need for new and modern infrastructure to ease congestion.

This was higher than the estimated PHP2.4 billion in 2012 that was included in the Mega Manila transport roadmap approved by the government in 2014.

JICA and the Japanese government have expressed their commitment to support the Build Build Build program.

Through this program, the Duterte administration seeks to build infrastructure that would connect rural areas to key cities across the country, ushering in a golden age of infrastructure and enabling the government to attain its vision of turning the country into a middle income economy by 2022. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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