[EDITORIAL] #AnimatED: Tragic rides, drastic steps for the MRT
There is something disturbing about the fact that we, commuters and social media users, could laugh off the latest horror on the Metro Rail Transit (MRT). After a few curses and condemnation of we’re-now-confused-which government, it was countless memes and witty posts that defined how most people would remember the sudden detachment of a carriage, forcing the train to stop between stations and giving commuters no other option but to walk on the tracks to the next stop.
Just the day before that, a female commuter, fainting right after alighting from the train, fell between the cars; her arm was cut off. But after less than 24 hours of being appalled by the incident, we were feeling good as we got wind of news about the victim’s arm being put back and about the medical intern having the presence of mind to attend to her during the emergency.
Now, we await how the story will progress – no different perhaps from a teleserye – because a transportation undersecretary has said government agents are investigating the possibility of the uncoupling of the trains being done deliberately by some insider or former insider to put the government in a bad light. Remember that the Duterte government has just cancelled the maintenance contract of the unqualified but favored consortium of the Aquino administration.
This is no laughing matter anymore. This is an issue where government should not be allowed any more slack because we let the Filipino trait of finding humor in problems take precedence. We forget easily. And we get distracted easily by the blaming and the finger-pointing.
For this year alone (and the year's not over yet), the MRT3 line has had an average of 10.33 glitches and technical problems a week, data analysis by Rappler showed. This is worse than last year's 8.5 incidents a week.
Several proposals have been proffered by various camps: (1) government takeover of MRT operations (decisions are quickly made and solutions are immediately carried out); (2) complete stoppage of train operations (to once and for all assess the fitness of the trains and come up with strict regulations for its operations); (3) regulating the number of cars manufactured and sold every year and taxing vehicle owners (because they cause the traffic that drives commuters to take the MRT that’s already beyond capacity).
Let’s not settle for just long-term solutions of metro subways and more road networks. They will take years to build, and in the interim, compound already hellish traffic. By the time these projects are completed, the population of Metro Manila and its surrounding environs shall have already exploded some more.
The breakdown of the MRT system is the consequence of willful bad decisions and incompetence by past administrations, worsened by every subsequent one. There are interests at play but it should be government, not private groups or citizens, hauling those responsible for the MRT mess to court.
This was a campaign issue exploited by the mayor of Davao more than a year ago to make Mega Manila voters rightfully indignant toward the president then and the latter’s party and standard-bearer.
It’s about time that President Duterte proves the empathy he claimed he had for weary commuters in Metro Manila is real. He needs to demonstrate the same political will he showed in the fight against illegal drugs – this can be done with bullet train speed given the right people who have the expertise and technical knowledge.
This is a problem that needed solutions yesterday. We should demand they be delivered today. – Rappler.com
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