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One way to ease traffic: Accept our reports, MMDA tells insurance firms

By: - Reporter / @jovicyeeINQ
/ 05:19 AM July 10, 2016

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) recently asked the Insurance Commission to call on insurance companies to recognize its traffic investigation reports in order to ease road congestion after accidents.

This was on top of the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (Jica) proposed five medium-term solutions to the capital’s traffic woes. Jica estimated that the country lost to traffic P2.4 billion in potential income daily, or around P876 billion annually.

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In its study, Jica recommended the government restudy the gateway airport options for Metro Manila; the feasibility of a Mega Manila subway system; the reform of a road-based public transport system; the feasibility of secondary mass transport system lines, and the feasibility of the North Harbor redevelopment.

Lawyer Crisanto Saruca, head of the MMDA’s Traffic Discipline Office, said the insurance companies’ recognition of MMDA reports could ease traffic after accidents, as there would be no long waiting before the vehicles involved are removed, which caused bottlenecks.

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Saruca said the nonrecognition of MMDA reports in insurance claims was one of the reasons for the traffic buildup during accidents.

“It’s just a matter of evidence. You’ll just say [in the report] who hit whom. Why would you wait for the police? That’s why we can’t immediately remove the vehicles off the streets,” Saruca said.

He said that since policemen usually came from their precincts, it usually took time for them to arrive at the scene of the accident, compared with MMDA enforcers who are already on the ground or at least nearby.

Of the metro’s 16 cities, Quezon City, Manila and Makati top the list of accident-prone areas, Saruca said. These cities also have the largest volume of vehicular flow.

Jica also proposed to free up the 600-hectare North Harbor and convert it into a mixed-use waterfront development.

“Since domestic shipping is primarily from the south of Manila, there would be savings in ship operating costs if they dock at Batangas rather than at North Harbor,” Jica said.

 Bring them to Batangas

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It said that by moving North Harbor operations, “this would also trigger a shift of cargo movements away from Manila and provide a volume of exportable TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit cargoes) that may entice foreign vessels to call at the Batangas port.”

“For the City of Manila, it represents an opportunity to revitalize a city and regain its old glory,” Jica said.

Jica said it was about time the government initiated a study that would find “within 50 kilometers” a replacement to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. It noted that developing the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport may be too costly as it would need an “expensive railway system” costing around $8.5 billion and construction of a terminal building and other facilities worth almost $1 billion, not to mention the cost to passengers who would have to travel all the way to Clark, Pampanga.

It proposed redeveloping Sangley Point, a former US air base in Cavite, since this “may turn out to be cheaper.”

Jica said the government should also look into developing an underground mass transit system to help ease commuters’ woes and connect key areas such as Makati, Bonifacio Global City, the Manila Bay Area, Ortigas, North Triangle and the Food Terminal Inc. complex in Alabang.

In January, a P374-billion subway project from Fort Bonifacio to the Mall of Asia complex—following Jica’s proposal—was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority’s Investment Coordinating Committee.

Jica stressed the need for a railway network development with particular focus on common stations so that mass transit lines would “not emerge into fragmented lines.”

Jica also said the “atomized” operations of more than 35,000 jeepneys and 5,000 buses in the capital were “ill-suited to the requirements of a modern metropolis.”

 77 choke points

“This study shall formulate a comprehensive plan of action to make their operations more efficient, lower their carbon footprints, and [make them] attractive to car users, without losing their role as big employment generators,” Jica said, noting that such reorganization had been done in South Korea.

The MMDA earlier released 77 choke points in the capital, which include seven intersections along the 23.8-kilometer Edsa and roads leading to and from Manila North Harbor. (See illustration at right.)

Saruca earlier said that while the long-term solution was to improve the mass transport system, what could be done now is to further expand other means of travel, such as the ferry service, which he pointed out could carry 700 passengers daily, as well as address the lack of discipline among motorists and pedestrians, and the lack of understanding of drivers of traffic rules and regulations. With a report from Arianne Cardiño

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TAGS: Insurance Commission, Japan International Cooperation Agency, JICA, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, MMDA, Road Congestion
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