Traffic woes? Blame poor training of MMDA personnel – COA

MANILA, Philippines – A systemic lack of training among traffic enforcement personnel of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) may be contributing to the worsening traffic situation in the national capital region, state auditors said.

Of the 2,382 traffic enforcement personnel of the MMDA, only 574 attended training seminars provided by the agency in 2015, the Commission on Audit (COA) revealed on Monday, August 22.

To make matters worse, only 323 of 427 newly-hired traffic auxiliaries finished the course meant to help them improve their knowledge for the job.

Of these, only 14 of them passed the training seminar. An additional 185 (57%) failed, while 117 did not even take the test. Seven individuals were unaccounted for.

All of them were still hired and sent to the streets to help manage the traffic of the metropolis.

Training woes

The MMDA has two sub-offices mandated to provide training for these personnel, according to the 2015 audit: The Traffic Education Division (TED) and the Institute of Traffic Management (ITM).

The TED's job is to “professionalize Traffic Management and Enforcement in Metropolitan Manila and continuously upgrade the competence level of Traffic Enforcers by providing first-rate capability-building programs designed to develop a new breed of respectable, productive, and committed servant."

TED provides training for new hires regarding traffic management, Uniform Ordinance Violation Receipts (UOVRs) issuing, traffic direction and control, and refresher courses for those who need it.

The ITM, meanwhile, handles basic traffic management courses, as well as road digging seminars.

According to the audit, 496 traffic officers attended TED trainings in 2015. The ITM also took on 78 people for training.

The auditing team said of the results: "Despite the poor training results, no re-orientation seminars were conducted during the year for those who failed to pass the evaluation. Moreover, the 72 participants who failed to complete and the 32 who did not attend the orientation seminars were not required to complete or attend [anymore]."

When asked about the results, the head of the TED admitted there were times the group was forced to cut seminars short due to the need to deploy traffic enforcers for the job. The TED tries to schedule what it calls "crash seminars" to make up for holes in the regimen, but this only occurs if a unit head asks for one.

"Thus, a total of 1,808 [traffic personnel] were not able to attend any seminar/training during the year. This indicates lack of an effective and efficient continuing training and development program to ensure that skills of employees are improved and strengthened,” the COA said.

Seniority and trust

In addition to training lapses, the COA cited 303 job order personnel (JOs) as being given supervisory positions above others with a permanent status in the agency. These orders appear to go against the general tenet that higher-numbered designations are meant for those with seniority.

Traffic enforcers, for example, are supervised by Traffic Inspectors and Traffic Constables. Those with a higher-numbered ranking are meant to have higher positions in the hierarchy of enforcement.

The COA, however, cited a JO hired with a Traffic Inspector IV status. This put him higher-up in position than 26 other Traffic Inspectors with permanent status.

The COA also cited 302 JOs with appointments as Traffic Constable III – a higher position than 1,170 permanent traffic constables.

The COA warned that this was against regulations, in addition to being bad for agency morale.

Said the COA, "The appointment of supervisory functions to JOs with whom the [MMDA] has no employer-employee relationship is not only contrary to the CSC regulations but could also cause possible demoralization of permanent employees which can make the latter less-motivated and may cause work-related issues within the ranks."

MMDA management, however, said one reason for appointing non-permanent personnel to higher posts was "trust and confidence." It did not elaborate. –