Brace for more traffic in 2013
MANILA, Philippines - If you think Metro Manila traffic is bad, think again.
By 2013, when most of the government's big-ticket projects will be online, traffic is bound to get worse.
"You're building for the future so that cost will be lowered. It's a worth it investment so that in the next 20 years, you won't have those (traffic) costs because otherwise they'll just pile up," Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in an interview on Wednesday, September 26.
By 2013, the government intends to undertake one rail project, an integrated bus terminal, and 7 big ticket road projects, most of which will be done in Metro Manila.
The P60 billion LRT Line 1 South Extension to Bacoor in Cavite – the Aquino government's largest infrastructure project in the pipeline so far – will likely start construction in January 2014, according to President Aquino. The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), on the other hand, said construction will likely start in late-2013.
Another DOTC project set to start construction in 2013 is the Integrated transport system project, which aims to consolidate provincial bus terminals in one area. This is meant to decongest traffic within the capital itself by setting a drop-off point in separate areas for buses servicing south of Metro Manila and another in the north.
On the part of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), it also intends to undertake projects such as the Daang Hari-SLEX, NAIA Expressway, NLEX-SLEX Connector, a project to improve the "road roughness" on EDSA, among others.
These construction works will likely make the cost of traffic to the economy higher in 2013.
Transportation Undersecretary Rene Limcaoco said a study made by the University of the Philippines estimated that traffic cost the economy P137 billion in 2011.
"Our infrastructure stock is clearly insufficient. The obvious thing is for the country to expand its infrastructure in order to meet its economic and development goals. For example, lets talk about the favorite whipping boy of everyone, the traffic," he stresed.
"Our latest studies with UP have shown that in 2011 alone...the economic cost of traffic here in Metro Manila amounted to P137 billion," Limcaoco said.
A boost to growth
While the various infrastructure projects are bound to make traffic worse and city dwellers more upset, these will likely pull up the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth this year.
Balisacan said that while the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) has not run estimates of how much these projects are going to contribute to economic growth next year, it is bound to be significant.
He explained that infrastructure can directly and indirectly provide a boost to the economy through jobs, consumption spending, and manufacturing, among others. Consumption, for one, has been the key economic growth driver of the Philippine economy.
"The government's infrastructure program has a significant contribution next year because most of the big ticket infrastructure projects will begin by next year. Construction will be full blast in the LRT extension, expressways, the connector. Be ready for massive traffic but (we) will manage. What is important is we get these infrastructure on the ground," Balisacan said in the vernacular. - Rappler.com