With just five days to go before the proposed implementation of a modified truck ban, Metro mayors and truck operators have yet to agree on the guidelines for the scheme which is aimed at easing traffic during the holiday season.
In a council session held in Mandaluyong City on Wednesday, members of the Metro Manila Council gave truck operators and port users until Monday to submit their recommendations in addition to the proposed alternative routes they submitted earlier.
In the expanded ban being pushed by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), trucks can use major thoroughfares only from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. starting on Dec. 3 until Dec. 26. Under the present setup, the ban is in effect only on weekdays, from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“The council has already talked about approving this proposal. However, this is still subject to the submission of the truckers associations of their proposed alternative routes to and from the port area in Manila and the recommendation of the window hours for the holiday season,” a member of the council, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, said.
During the meeting, representatives from the Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines and the Integrated North Harbor Truckers Association expressed their concern over the possible adverse effects of the expanded truck ban on their business.
In a statement, another group said the traffic scheme could lead to additional costs on their part. “Time is gold … and we think that this expanded truck ban will result in [the] cancellation of orders by our cargo customers because we will not be able to deliver on time,” the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. said.
Officials of other trucker associations echoed the sentiment as they noted that the implementation of the expanded truck ban in May, when the Asian Development Bank meeting was held in Manila, resulted in major delays in cargo deliveries. They told the mayors council that “there was an overflow of goods at the port area and it took port users and truck owners more than a week to free up the bulk.”
Bautista and MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino, meanwhile, expressed optimism that the two sides would be able to reach an agreement on Monday.