Three weeks ago it was “Bad Friday” when people sat 5-8 hours in traffic and many missing flights out of NAIA. Now again this week another nightmare. And even on a good day it’s a crapshoot, you can spend 2-3 hours or 3-4 or 405 on EDSA depending on mall sales, weather or a breakdown. Unpredictable. And the government remains confused about what to do.
There are some solutions that only require political will, which will not eliminate the problem, but would help mitigate it. For example, one alternative is to just promote the use of the ports of Batangas and Subic and the Clark Airport. If the government did this, along with removing all the illegal and unlicensed sidewalk vendors so pedestrians can once again use sidewalks instead of public roadways, begin to inspect vehicles and remove vehicles that are prone to break down and block roadways and stop illegal parking or loading and unloading, much could be done to help facilitate better flow. While at the same time addressing public transport and PPP road initiatives.
There are some relatively quick fixes to help alleviate the congestion such as promoting and forcing the use of the ports of Subic and Batangas. Subic for cargo to and from Northern Luzon and Batangas for cargo to and from Southern Luzon. Consider, Yokohama at Clark, who has the capacity to manufacture 30,000 to 50,000 tires PER DAY, ships out of Manila when Subic is so near. But more importantly, these 20-30 trucks a day would be removed from NLEX and roads heading into Manila and port area helping alleviate congestion. Same applies to the south. The government MUST facilitate more carriers calling on Subic and Batangas and encourage shippers to use those ports in lieu of ports of Manila. Impose a tariff on any exporter or importer in the north or south that does not use Subic or Batangas.
But even more importantly, the government MUST promote the use of Clark as an international gateway, IN ADDITION TO CONTINUED USE OF NAIA, as well as looking at building a 3rd new airport in the south. Consider Bangkok now is opening its 4th airport to service the capital. But even if the Government said tomorrow it will construct a new airport, from studies to design and engineering to construction and first flight, you are talking of a minimum of 7 years. What is the country going to do, put up with EDSA constipation for 7 more years (more likely 10). It MUST do something now.
There are 23 million people in Regions I, II, CAR, III and northern environs of Metro Manila who are much closer to Clark than NAIA, yet each and every one of them is virtually forced to use NAIA because there are insufficient flights in and out of Clark. All these vehicles and passengers could be removed from EDSA traffic, on a daily basis. This is even more significant when one analyzes the profile of the OFW work force, which disproportionately come from Central to Northern Luzon.
All it takes is political will. Sure work on infrastructure, build roads, buy new LRT/MRT cars and improve public transport, but also do the easy things that take only Political Will. Promote, entice, force use of Subic and Batangas ports in lieu of Manila and accelerate the use of Clark as a true international hub.