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Metro Manila traffic now costing PHL P3.5 billion daily —JICA

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The Philippines is now losing some P3.5 billion daily due to the traffic situation in Metro Manila, the latest study of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) revealed.

According to the updated Transport Infrastructure Roadmap Study for Mega Manila released by JICA on Thursday, the cost has increased to P3.5 billion due to the worsening traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

"Metro Manila is getting worse," a presentation of JICA Chief Representative Susumu Ito sent via email to GMA News Online said.

The latest update comes more than three years after JICA pegged traffic costs in Metro Manila at P2.4 billion in September 2014.

With the rising traffic costs, JICA said the government must focus on its massive infrastructure spending program to address such concerns.

"Build, Build, Build is in right direction. It's a must-do!" Ito said in his presentation.

Under the Build, Build, Build program, the government plans to spend over P8 trillion until 2022, largely funded by government revenues from taxes.

This year alone, the Philippines plans to roll out 76 big-ticket projects cumulatively valued at $35.5 billion or P1.1 trillion.

Ito noted, however, that the government must also pay attention to addressing regional bottlenecks.

"Even with Build, Build, Build, bottlenecks will still remain in outer areas. Therefore, additional projects should be implemented," he said.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center in January signed an agreement to set up regional information hubs in a bid to boost regional development.

Aside from this, JICA said it also expects Mega Manila to become one of the largest mega cities in the world by the year 2035, but also among the most congested.

According to the agency, the net density of Mega Manila is expected to increase to 102 people per hectare in the year 2035, compared with the 65 people per hectare recorded in 2015.

"Makati, Ortigas, and BGC (Bonifacio Global City) will become increasingly congested," it said.

In Makati, the net density is expected to grow to 365 people per hectare in 2035 from the 278 people per hectare in 2015, while Pasig net density is seen to rise to 439 people per hectare from the 233 people per hectare.

Meanwhile, the net density of Taguig is projected to grow to 512 people per hectare in 2035 from the 236 people per hectare in 2015.

With this, JICA expects nearby areas to emerge as new growth centers in the next 17 years.

"New growth centers will emerge, population growth in outer areas will be even greater than in Metro Manila," it said.

Among the areas cited are Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite, which JICA dubbed as the BRLC area. Its net density is projected to grow to 69 people per hectare in 2035 from 34 people per hectare in 2015. —JKG, GMA News

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