Manila traffic: An ordinary citizen’s view

Metro Manila’s traffic problem is said to cost the country around P3 billion per day. The centerpiece of it all is the 23.8-kilometer gate of hell we call EDSA. It’s the thoroughfare that should be avoided at all costs if you want the slightest glimmer of hope that you’ll reach your destination on time.

And no one is safe from the wrath of EDSA. The guy whose job is to manage traffic failed to make a morning TV appearance because he was stuck in traffic. On EDSA, obviously! The story is so laughable that it was even picked up by foreign media. It’s so laughable that no one is laughing.

We all know that EDSA doesn’t have a monopoly on congestion and virtual standstills. Most of the metropolis is notorious for being one massive and unhappy bumper-to-bumper street party during rush hour. And we have to wonder why it seems that no one is putting the most obvious solutions on the table.


I’m not talking about urban planning, wider roads, alternative routes or even doing something about those damn inefficient LRT and MRT systems. That’s really for the experts to figure out. I’m talking about the simplest of things, such as scheduling of roadworks.

It is beyond me why they insist on jackhammering the streets in the middle of the day when everyone’s going to work or school. Can’t they do this at night when vehicle volume is lower? My parents’ house in Muntinlupa is two barangays south of Alabang. Before the roadworks on the national road were started, it took less than 10 minutes to get from the village to Alabang. Now, the trip takes 45 minutes, sometimes longer.

According to recent reports, choke points on EDSA are being cleared of vendors; some officials are suggesting that illegally parked vehicles be towed; and some jurisdictions are getting stricter with public utility vehicles. My question is, why only now? And why only at select locations?

Everywhere around the metro, there are still PUVs (buses and jeepneys) that linger for minutes on end at intersections, waiting for passengers. Not only that, plenty of motorists use public roads as their personal garage, rendering one lane useless. And if it isn’t a private vehicle that’s parked on the road, it’s a fleet of taxis. If not, it’s a fleet of sidewalk-vendor karitons. Or any combination of the above.

These are all little inconveniences that contribute to the national capital region’s worsening traffic conditions. It’s a snowball effect – one negligible thing leads to another negligible thing until it all becomes one huge problem affecting the millions of people living in these Metro Manila cities and causing the country to lose billions of pesos every day.

And I don’t know if the following statement is sacrilegious but think about it: Maybe it’s time we stop using EDSA as a place for rallies. I’m just saying.


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