Palace backs carpooling, working from home to ease traffic
MANILA, Philippines – As commuters and motorists braced for heavy traffic now that 15 simultaneous roadworks in Metro Manila have started, Malacañang Palace suggested ways citizens could help ease the traffic.
"Voluntary remedial measures such as community carpooling and company initiated flexi-time and home office arrangements for affected employees can contribute in easing traffic congestion," said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.
"We renew our call that we share in the burden of sacrifice, and bear with the short-term inconvenience, so we can reap the benefits of faster travel and higher productivity," he said.
The Palace also gave assurances it has prepared traffic management plans.
"To address the citizens’ concerns arising from the start of construction of the Skyway 3 project, the NAIA Expressway project, and other projects in Metro Manila, the MMDA and the DPWH have prepared traffic management plans including rerouting and road widening," Coloma said.
On Monday, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) released alternative routes for private vehicles affected by the Skyway construction. These include EDSA, Taft Avenue, Arnaiz Avenue, Gil Puyat Avenue, Ayala Avenue, Vito Cruz, and Roxas Boulevard, among others.
On Tuesday, the same day heavy traffic caused by the beginning of Skyway Stage 3 construction was expected to begin, Coloma said the government has adequately prepared for the simultaneous construction.
"These plans have been on the drawing board for quite some time. And while these were being planned, DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) and the MMDA had advance information," he said. "They've informed the affected local governments, and were able to present possible rerouting plans and plans for road widening. Since 2010, these infrastructure proects were already being discussed."
But when asked why it is only now that the possibility of a 4-day school week and the revival of the Pasig ferry service is being discussed, Coloma said the planning is a "continuing process."
"The process of consultation is continuous. There is no interruption in the projects because of lags in consultations. We continue to coordinate with affected communities," he said.
Coloma also said there is still a need to review the proposals.
"Those proposals were simply offered as options and suggestions, and were not intended to be presented as imperatives, precisely because there is a need for all the affected stakeholders to vet the idea, to review the possible ramifications and consequences," he said.
The proposals may be adapted, but not immediately, Coloma said.
"To begin with, classes are nearing its end, right? The regular school calendar will be ending in about a month. So there's time through the summer vacation to plan until the reopening of classes," he said.
"Other organizations on their own are initiating voluntary measures, so it's a combination of voluntary and mandatory measures. But we would rather focus for now on the voluntary measures," Coloma said.
Despite the most recent criticism, Coloma said he feels as if the Filipino people understand and support the government's infrastructure initiatives.
"We can see that our people welcome this, that they too want additional infrastructure, that structures they see in other countries, they also want to see here at home," he said. "I think we should also recognize that many of our people are willing to do the necessary sacrifice that is needed and they are willing to bear with the inconvenience." – Rappler.com