PCCI laments deteriorating Manila traffic condition

Published May 9, 2022, 4:35 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the country’s largest business organization, has complained that Metro Manila traffic and other major cities in the country has deteriorated so badly.

“The traffic situation in Metro Manila and other major urban areas in the country has deteriorated so badly,” said PCCI President George T. Barcelon at during the 2nd General Membership Meeting.

Barcelon cited figures from Japan International Cooperation Agency that showed that the P3.5 billion in daily economic costs in the Philippine economy due to traffic mess could rise to P5.4 billion a day by 2035. if nothing is done, the economic cost could hinder the country’s long-term vision of a quality life for every family and middle-income economy status for the country by 2040.

Already, the more than two hours spent waiting in line for their rides and in slow-moving traffic has severely impacted workers’ productivity and subsequently, the productivity of business enterprises, he said.

Barcelon stressed that transportation and logistics are essential to sustaining economic gains and building on the reform measures that are aimed at making the country attractive to investments and conducive to jobs-creating activities. “There are a lot of concerns besetting our transportation and logistics industry. These issues need a comprehensive set of measures to curb further problems and avoid more losses to the economy,” Barcelon said.

Experts and stakeholders in the transportation industry are appealing to the outgoing and incoming government to act with urgency on the perennial issues of traffic and port congestion in Metro Manila in anticipation of the full reopening of the economy.

Experts and stakeholders were also one in saying that the best solution for Metro Manila’s traffic situation is to improve mass transportation and decongest the highly populated urban metropolis.

Transportation expert and consultant, Engr. Rene Santiago, observed that while travel demands have shrunk with work-from-home arrangements, the modal share of cars have increased due to the COVID scare yet road capacities have been reduced with bicycle lanes in place.

Making it more difficult for the riding public is the shortage of buses and jeepneys due to government rules. Santiago said there should be more public transportation and less cars. He recommended building 246 kilometer of mass transit lines and 78 km of urban expressways.

Further, the completion of pending projects as the Quezon Avenue BRT, LRT 1 Extension to Bacoor and LRT 2 East Extension and the addition of trains to the MRT to increase ridership could give a temporary reprieve to the worsening traffic woes. Long-term would be to manage population size and distribution.

He said the private sector can take the lead proactively through programs supporting balik-probinsya new growth centers and accelerating the shift to the 4IR work-style or hybrid work and hybrid school arrangement.

These, he explained, would lessen vehicles, at least 250,000 cars, on the roads and one million riders of public transport. In addition, the hybrid school would address shortage in classrooms.

In terms of impact to sales and the supply chain, Pierre Curay, president, the Supply Chain Management Association of the Philippines said that at 25 percent, the share of logistics costs in the percentage of sales in the country is the highest among our ASEAN neighbors. The average cost versus percentage of sales for developing countries is 10 percent.

“Transport faces a lot of challenges in terms of policies as it is one of the primary focus of penalties that slows down traffic but increases costs. Examples of these are the truck ban, single lane, and number coding scheme which adds to the cost of deliveries. If the cost of transport is high, the cost of commodities also increases,” Curay said.

Curay said existing policies only allow deliveries once every two days and if you can deliver only that little, that is basically doubling your cost. The best way to have thrice per day delivery to significantly lower the cost.

Curay supported Santiago’s proposals to continue with BBB infrastructure projects and the building of more railways. He further suggested adjusting of seaports capacity in Batangas and Subic, the creation of Integrated Logistics and Supply Chain Infrastructure, Supply Chain National Development Council, removal of truck ban and color coding for trucks, and allowing night-time deliveries to malls and retail stores.