Road closures force thousands to walk to work
WHILE the government busied itself with implementing security measures and providing visiting heads of state with BMWs, thousands of Filipinos affected by road closures in Metro Manila traveled on foot.
It took Makati City employee Chiesa Ginuguin more than an hour to walk along Roxas Boulevard from Coastal Road in Parañaque City to Heritage Hotel in Pasay City on Monday morning.
The reason: The closure of Roxas Boulevard for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit left thousands of commuters with no choice but to walk to get to work.
The 21-year-old administrative assistant even took a video of her so-called “sacrifice” just to get to work on time.
In the footage uploaded to her Facebook account, Ginuguin was walking along with students and other workers, who already occupied two lanes of Roxas Boulevard.
“I left my residence in Parañaque City early in the morning and I was forced to walk along Coastal Road around 7 a.m. since my work is at 8:30 a.m.,” Ginuguin told the Inquirer.
Late for work
She, however, said that she still arrived more than 30 minutes late at her office in Makati City.
The Parañaque police chief, Senior Supt. Ariel Andrade, said about 2,000 people walked for about 4 kilometers from Coastal Road to Roxas Boulevard on Monday morning.
But others had to walk double that distance from the Manila–Cavite Expressway (Cavitex) toll gate to Edsa.
Inquirer production coordinator Jojie Binuya, who traveled from Dasmariñas, Cavite province, said he was on the road for five hours.
“I walked for about 30 minutes just to get to the Coastal Mall terminal where I boarded a bus back to Cavite,” Binuya said.
He added that he opted to return home and not go to work because of the horrendous traffic congestion.
The trials and tribulations of many commuters to reach their destinations landed on social media, too.
“Lagi na lang! Wala man lang backup plan para sa mga commuters. It’s like the government is saying to us ‘lakad and traffic are your inevitable companions for the whole week. So pave the way on your own, people.’ Napakainam talaga. Kaka-stress. Asar!” said Facebook user Jewely Kaye Barrameda with hashtags #APECtado and #APECfail.
Most netizens using the same hashtags wanted to know why there were not enough public utility vehicles and why roads were closed without considering the commuters’ plight.
Twitter, too, was a catch basin of complaints.
A female user named Lally! even tagged the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for what she called “a lack of proper rerouting directions for motorists.”
“Napakalaking kalokohan ng pagsasara ng sandamukal na kalsada tapos walang matinong rerouting directions sa mga motorist. @MMDA #APECtado,” she said using Twitter handle @ohlallypop.
In Manila, for example, eight lanes of Roxas Boulevard were closed to both pedestrians and motorists starting on Monday until Nov. 20. The advisory on the closure was issued only on Sunday.
Johnny Yu, chief of Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said the task force handling Apec security measures decided to prevent people from passing through Roxas Boulevard to ensure the safety of world leaders.
In an interview, Yu sympathized with the commuters. He said he also couldn’t understand why the national government implemented the traffic schemes Monday without first suspending classes.
To appease the public, Yu asked for more patience and understanding. He also advised them to “stay indoors” for the rest of the week.
But if they can’t, Facebook user Dreau Lanot has a piece of advice for both male and female commuters: Wear running shoes.
“It’s a good idea for men and women to wear running shoes this week. Ladies, if you go to work in heels, you might wanna bring spare sneakers. No one can tell the horrors this week’s rush hour will bring and we’ll all likely be forced to revert to the oldest means of transport: feet,” Lanot said.
Emmanuel Miro, head of the MMDA’s Task Force Apec, told the Inquirer that his group had anticipated the situation.
“Buses were supposed to be rerouted to Macapagal Avenue until they reach Edsa,” he said, but noted that some decided to cut trips because of the bumper-to-bumper traffic from Cavitex.
Miro said the MMDA met with the bus operators over the weekend and they presented the option to cut trips during the Apec week.
“We decided that for the whole week, we will be lenient to buses who will cut trips,” he said.
Asked if the agency saw the need to provide shuttle service for the commuters, Miro said adding vehicles along the road would just cause more congestion.
“The most advisable thing to do is to walk,” the MMDA Task Force Apec head said, noting that it cannot open other alternate routes near the Coastal Road area for security reasons.
Miro, however, maintained that more than 800 traffic marshals had been deployed to help manage traffic during the Apec summit this week.
He advised motorists and commuters from Cavite to use Daang Hari, going to South Luzon Expressway, then to their destination.
“They can also utilize C5 Road to avoid traffic,” he added.
The MMDA earlier announced that the stretch of Roxas Boulevard from Katigbak to MIA Road would be fully closed on both directions starting on Monday to Nov. 20 since this would be exclusively used by Apec delegates.
There will be road closures also in the SM Mall of Asia Arena area from 6 a.m. of Nov. 18 until midnight, specifically on the following roads: Diokno Avenue corner Seaside Boulevard, Coral Way corner Seaside, Edsa corner Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard, Macapagal corner Coral Way, Jose Diokno Boulevard corner Aseana Avenue, and Macapagal corner Bradco Avenue.
The MMDA recommended the following alternate routes for motorists:
For public utility buses— From Edsa, take a U-turn before Edsa corner Diokno or take Macapagal Boulevard to Baclaran.
For private cars and public utility vehicles—From Edsa, turn right at Macapagal Boulevard, turn left at Seaside Boulevard to SM Mall of Asia.
From Mall of Asia, take Seaside Boulevard, turn left at Diosdado Macapagal, and turn left at Gil Puyat Avenue (Buendia) to destination.
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