Garbage worsens traffic — Ecowaste

The  Ecowaste Coalition on Saturday appealed to the government to strictly enforce  two major environmental laws to prevent chronic flashfloods that contribute to the worsening traffic in Metro Manila.

“We call on all local government units to ensure that Republic Act 9003 and Republic Act 9275 are faithfully enforced in their areas of jurisdiction to minimize floods aggravated by clogged canals and creeks,” said Ecowaste coordinator Aileen Lucero.

R.A. 9003 (the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act) prohibits littering, open dumping and other acts that pose harm to health and sanitation, while R.A. 9275 (the Clean Water Act) prohibits the discharging of materials that could cause water pollution or impede the natural flow in the water body.

“We likewise appeal to all households and business establishments to stop indiscriminate garbage disposal knowing that what we carelessly dispose of will come back to haunt our families and communities.  As the saying goes: ‘basurang tinapon mo, babalik sa iyo’,” Lucero said.

“Recklessly thrown discards from the tiny but toxic cigarette filters to the ubiquitous plastic bags and styrofoam containers can block water channels and cause flashfloods, Lucero said.

Ecowaste suggested that local authorities should deploy environmental police to arrest and charge offenders.

The group made the appeal four days following the heavy rains  Tuesday night that resulted in the horrendous traffic jam in various parts of Metro Manila for several hours. The government blamed the massive flooding brought by local thunderstorm as the reason for the heavy traffic.

Thousands of motorists and commuters were also stranded for at least five hours and most of them, including college students and workers, arrived home early morning the next day. Some had to wade through floodwaters up to their thighs on their way home.

Under R.A. 9003, litterbugs can be fined from P300 to P1,000, compelled to undertake community service or be required to pay the fine as well as render community service, while violators of R.A. 9275 can be fined not less than P10,000 to not more than P200,000 for every day of violation.

Lucero noted that plastic-based waste materials indiscriminately-thrown in storm drains and esteros end up polluting the Manila Bay. 

She cited last year’s waste audit conducted by Ecowaste, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, and Mother Earth Foundation in the Manila Bay that showed plastic wastes topping the bay’s flotsam at 61.9 percent.

Discards surveys conducted by the same groups in 2010  and 2006  found 75 to 76 percent of the trash floating on Manila Bay as comprised mainly of plastic wastes, mostly plastic bags and polystyrene products.

The group also asked the Department of Public Works and Highways to prosecute erring contractors that have unduly delayed drainage and road projects, aggravating the flood as well as traffic situation in the metropolis.

Palace officials on Friday admitted that the worsening traffic problem in the National Capital region is caused mainly by inadequate roads and poor flood control.

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