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Mayors hail cops for easing traffic

METRO Manila mayors commended the Philippine National Police’s Highway Patrol Group for being able to improve the traffic flow on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue and agreed to ask the national government to extend the HPG’s tour until December.

Among the improvement made by HPG men was cutting the travel time of motorists by at least 10 to 15 minutes, enforcing traffic rules among public and private motorists and more discipline among city and provincial bus drivers.

The 17 local executives agreed to pass a resolution asking the national government to extend the services of HPG men until December to assist Metro Manila Development Authority personnel to further improve traffic, especially during the holiday season when traffic flow is expected heavy.

Not perfect, but better. Traffic enforcers monitor the loading and unloading of passengers at Quiapo, Manila on Friday when devotees of the Black Nazarene usually congregate in the area to attend mass at the basilica. DANNY PATA

HPG chief Arnold Gunnacao is open to the idea of members of the Metro Manila Council, but said it is up to President Benigno Aquino III whether he would grant such request.

“The MMC wants to see what we did to improve Edsa and the participation of the police, local government units and other sectors. With this, they’re going to make a resolution to extend HPG services but as I said it depends on the President decision. Kami naman kung may order susunod kami,” said Gunnacao following a meeting with MMDA and MMC officials   Thursday   night at the Manila Yacht Club.

Gunnacao said the mayors also agreed to take responsibility in the clearing operations of illegally parked vehicles and other obstructions affecting the 17 Mabuhay Lanes, or alternate routes for private motorists who want to avoid Edsa.

At the same time, newly appointed Interior and Local Government Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento said long-term planning is needed to solve the hellish traffic situation in the nation’s capital.

“Long-term planning is critical to achieve our goals,” said Sarmiento, who only has around eight months before the accession of a new administration.

“It’s good that they had already tackled the situation in the Metro Manila Council at the MMDA, wherein they know all the bottlenecks, where are the problem areas and what to do. But I think there should be long term solutions,” Sarmiento said.

Sarmiento said that city planning officers should work together to create concrete solutions in solving traffic woes.

Sarmiento said the Internal Revenue Allotment of LGUs will be doubled by 2018, and mayors should now plan ahead on what to do with that enormous amount.

The MMDA traditionally implement and open the Mabuhay Lanes (formerly Christmas Lanes) traffic scheme from December to January to help private motorists avoid heavy traffic during the holiday rush.

Under Metro Manila Council ordinance 78-03A, MMDA and local government units are authorized to tow and impound stalled and illegally parked motor vehicles. The MMC came up with this policy in 2002 following observation that stalled and illegally parked vehicles are among the contributors to traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

The mayors also supported the proposal of MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino to the Department of Public Works and Highways to build five modular bridges in strategic areas as quick solution to the traffic problem in Metro Manila.

Tolentino said the flyovers, spanning 400 meters, are made of steel similar to what Thailand built to solve the traffic problem in Bangkok, would be constructed in Santolan, P. Tuazon Boulevard, Carlos P. Garcia Avenue-Katipunan Avenue, Dela Rosa Street-Katipunan Avenue, and Vito Cruz. He added the five areas are covered by the six major chokepoints on Edsa.

The MMDA chief explained that the bridges can be built quickly within four to six weeks, and can be used by light vehicles and even public utility buses.

In the same meeting, the MMC also discussed how to harmonize the government’s overall traffic plans for smoother implementation of traffic regulations.

Mandaluyong City Mayor Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. commended Gunnacao and his men for a job well done improving traffic on EDSA. “I congratulated Gen. Gunnacao at napakaganda ng kanyang ginawa.”

Abalos also called for a better working relationship with HPG men, especially in dealing with motorists entering secondary roads from EDSA, that also caused road congestion in other parts of the metropolis.

“We have to harmonize for us to make a common ground solving the problem,” he said.

Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, for his part, proposed a single ticketing and unified traffic management system to further improve traffic in the metropolis. He suggested the creation of a Metropolis Traffic Management System and give the MMDA the full authority to enforce and manage traffic.

“The local government units must sacrifice and let the MMDA do the job with regards to the issuance of tickets and enforcement. There will be no boundaries and the traffic management will be centralized,” he said.

“There is no need to create another agency or make additional cost for the national government. The MMDA can do that alone and we want one jurisdiction once and for all,” Moreno added.

MMC is the policy making body of the MMDA.

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