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Not fixed, after all

Palace admits inadequate roads, poor flood control are to blame

THE severe traffic congestion in Metro Manila is caused by inadequate roads and poor flood control, the Palace said Friday.

Malacanang’s admission ran counter to its declaration last Wednesday that the police takeover of traffic management on Edsa was “effective.”

“The severe traffic congestion that was triggered by heavy rains and flash floods clearly showed the inadequacy of existing road and flood control infrastructure that will take time to be scaled up,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. in a text message to the press.

“Traffic enforcers will also have to work doubly hard to improve their responsiveness such that, if last Tuesday’s situation recurs, normal traffic flow may be restored more expeditiously,” Coloma said.

Morning gridlock. This picture taken around 6 a.m. on Friday shows the traffic buildup along Commonwealth in Quezon City. Lino Santos

Coloma also said the Metro Manila Development Authority has carried out its responsibilities in terms of flood control and drainage in collaboration with the Department of Public Works and Highways, which is the lead agency in implementing the 20-year flood control master plan.

Coloma said the MMDA has also been working with local government units in clearing road obstructions.

Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, on the other hand, said the Palace may call meetings with the MMDA and local government officials to account for their failing to take preventive steps to clear drainage systems and road obstructions.

“Perhaps that can be a discussion for a later time. Right now efforts are concentrated on measures to alleviate the situation,” Valte said.

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Valte said among the issues to be discussed will be the removal by the DPWH of obstructions on main roads and alternative routes, which is being done right now to improve traffic flow on EDSA.

In a speech before the delegates of the 23rd  Pacific Economic Cooperation Council, President Benigno Aquino III said a task force of different agencies was “hard at work to alleviate traffic along Metro Manila’s thoroughfares.”

Aquino said critical transport infrastructure like seaports, airports, bus terminals, and light rail transport, continue to be upgraded.

He also said big-ticket projects for transportation systems are in the pipeline.

The chief of the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group said  Friday  there was a slight improvement in traffic flow along Edsa, where travel time was cut by about 10 minutes.

“So far, we achieved the objective of cutting the travel time of motorists by at least 10 to 15 minutes in some areas of Edsa. We will also work on the technical or the engineering aspect,” said PNP-HPG chief Arnold Gunnacao following a meeting at the MMDA in Makati City.

Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras led the five-hour meeting held at the MMDA Metrobase Traffic Operations Center in Makati City.

The meeting started at  1:30 p.m.  but MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino arrived late at 5 p.m.  No reason was given, and Almendras refused to talk with the media after the meeting.

Gunnacao said that while the traffic situation improved in Balintawak going to Quezon Boulevard, congestion remained heavy in Cubao, Ortigas and Shaw Boulevard because vehicles were using single-artery roads after passing Edsa.

“We have to adjust more. There are plans to close all U-turn slots, particularly in the areas of Trinoma [North Avenue Edsa] because when the buses stop, the private vehicles in the back are affected,” he said.

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