JUST recently EDSA was on a standstill. After some rain and some flooding in Metro Manila, the traffic instantly became a nightmare. Pictures of EDSA at midnight full of cars not moving went viral on the internet. This was the worst traffic jam in Manila this year. However, every day is a traffic jam in Manila. When I studied in Manila for law school, traffic was really bad during rush hour, but there were windows where one could travel with just moderate traffic. At present it seems that traffic is a permanent feature in Metro Manila for 20 hours a day. I was in Manila recently, it was a Sunday at 11 in the evening, EDSA was bumper to bumper, making our traffic in Cebu seem like nothing.
Government is now in a panic. They are coming with idiotic ideas to decongest EDSA. One stupid idea is to ban private cars that are 15 years old or older. How many private cars can you see running in the streets of Manila that are 15 years old or older? Very, very few. Another proposal is to extend the coding scheme to two days. The latest suggestion is to ban cars with fewer than four passengers on EDSA. Yes, punish the taxpaying motorist for the failure of the corrupt government officials to address the traffic situation.
It does not take a genius to know the cause of and the solution to the Metro Manila traffic. Metro Manila is just too populated. There are too many people per land square meter. One building occupying 1,000 square meters of land can have 1,000 occupants. If only 10 percent of the occupants will bring cars, then that is 100 cars. If the rest of the 900 commute, then they would be occupying the equivalent of 45 jeepneys. Yet there are quite a number of buildings that have thousands of people in one small area. Obviously, the roads into and out of these buildings are not enough to handle this number of people. If we reduce the occupants of all the buildings above four stories in Metro Manila by half, I bet traffic will significantly improve. Government should immediately put a stop to development in Metro Manila – there needs to be a complete ban on the construction of new skyscrapers. New buildings should be capped to three stories.
Development should be horizontal and moved to the countryside. Apart from having certain parking requirements for every building constructed, there must also be road requirements. For example if the road only has one lane each direction within a one kilometer radius of a property, then only one story buildings may be constructed in that area. Malls can only be constructed in areas where there are enough roads to handle the traffic. Public welfare should come first before private profit.
Metro Cebu is now at full capacity with many huge buildings still under construction. I remember when we still had the Lahug Airport, Salinas Drive never had heavy traffic. Today with IT Park, it’s heavy traffic all day and at night, too! Imagine if the Banilad road will have 10-story buildings even just from the corner of Mabolo to Gaisano Country Mall. We will have unbearable gridlock.
The SRP road was supposed to link Cebu City with Talisay City and cut travel time. After SM Seaside City will open, that will be a road to SM Seaside and not a road that will connect Cebu City and Talisay City, as it will bring a lot of traffic. That is not a place for a mall, it should not be there.
Before it’s too late, we need leaders who will put the welfare of Cebu first before big business. Only development that can be accommodated by our present infrastructure should be allowed. Without infrastructure, then private development should wait. This way, it will be the big private businessmen pressuring Government for better infrastructure. Local Governments will also do their best to improve infrastructure.
We do not want traffic like Metro Manila. I hope our local leaders will use common sense and do the right thing.