Singson to traders: Maximize Manila’s 5-hour window for trucks

The DPWH chief says the negotiated hours of 10 am to 3 pm for trucks to ply Manila are already 'sufficient'

BANNED. Manila traffic enforcers tow a truck on the first day of the city's daytime truck ban. Photo by Jose Del/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The 5-hour window Manila granted trucks that want to ply its streets was “sufficient,” Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said, as he urged traders to maximize the use of the hours.

“We felt the negotiated hours are ideal. Unfortunately, we still need all the other stakeholders – port operators, the Philippine Ports Authority, the container yards to operate to the fullest,” he said at the 2014 Philippine Economic Briefing on Tuesday, March 18.

Manila started banning trucks with gross weight of over 4,500 kilos from its streets between 5 am and 9 pm in February. The move was widely opposed by businesses, mainly exporters, who warned the ban would forced many of them to close shops. Giving in to appeals, the city government allowed trucks to use its roads between 10 am and 3 pm on trial period.

“That (window) should be sufficient because the objective is to address the traffic situation,” Singson said, citing a study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on losses brought about by worsening traffic in the country.

Singson said while the main objective was to reduce traffic, the ban was also a way to decongest the Manila port as it forced some truckers to use the ports in Batangas and Subic instead. (READ: Battle of the ports: Where should Calabarzon shipments go?)

He said they would try to negotiate for more operating hours, “but we ask (traders) to use reliable truckers. Don’t use fly-by-night truckers.”

Asked whether there was more that the national government could do to resolve the issue, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad replied it was well within the city government’s right to implement traffic rules.

He said the national government would step in only if it was already undermining the country’s growth.

Philippine Economic Zone Authority Director-General Lilia de Lima earlier said the truck ban could have “far-reaching” repercussions on the country’s exports as around $77 worth of goods from companies located in the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) pass through the Manila port on a daily basis.

But Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said, “we should look at the big picture, the long-term benefits we are hoping to achieve.”

In a study, JICA said the Philippines could lose P6 billion everyday by 2030 due to bad traffic in Metro Manila. – Rappler.com

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