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Palace tells commuters braving daily traffic on EDSA: Be patient

Malacañang on Thursday asked commuters “to be patient” as it gave the assurance that the government is addressing the traffic congestion on Metro Manila’s circumferential highway, Epifanio delos Santo Avenue or EDSA.

Commuters are up in arms as the traffic on EDSA has worsened since the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) ordered traffic enforcers to strictly implement the yellow lane policy.

On Wednesday, many passengers were compelled to no longer go to work as they were stranded in traffic. Others who needed to use the rest room had to endure the long wait until they reach the bus terminal.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo sympathized with the commuters, recalling an incident when he was stuck in traffic for two hours while on his way to an event.

The rainy season could also be a factor, the Palace official noted.

“I think the rainy season has contributed to the density of traffic. MMDA is doing its level best to do something about it,” he said at a news conference.

“We have to ask the commuters to be patient. I’m sure the MMDA is doing enough.”

Easing the gridlock that grip Metro Manila daily can be achieved by building new infrastructure like elevated expressways, Panelo noted.

“We need Skyways for that. If you have a lot of skyways I don’t think there will be traffic,” he said.

The government projects are ongoing under the Build, build, Build infrastructure program to decongest traffic on EDSA in the coming years.

Among the road projects is the Skyway Stage 3, an 18.68-kilometer elevated toll road that will connect Gil Puyat Avenue in Makati City to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) in Balintawak, Quezon City.

The project cost is estimated at P37.43 billion. It is envisioned to reduce the time it takes to get to Balintawak from Buendia to 15 to 20 minutes from two hours.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier vowed to shorten the travel time between Cubao in Quezon City and Makati City to five minutes by end of 2019, a goal the Department of Public Works and Highways said was doable.

The Philippines is losing some P3.5 billion daily due to the traffic situation in Metro Manila, according to a study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

A previous study also by JICA pegged the economic losses to traffic in Metro Manila at P2.4 billion.

With such toll on the economy rising, JICA said the government must focus on massive infrastructure spending.

In 2015, the National Economic and Development Authority estimated the economic loss from traffic jams at P3 billion a day.

Without intervention, the economic cost of the daily gridlock is likely to reach P6 billion a day by 2030, JICA noted.

“The impact of traffic is horrendous. People spend so much time in getting a ride, getting to their respective offices,” Dr. Rene E. Ofreneo, director of the Center for Labor Justice of the UP School of Labor and industrial Relations noted in an interview with GMA News Online in 2015.

As a result, the 8-hour a day an employee must spend for work, rest, and socialization have now been reduced because of the gridlock.

“It’s really terrible. It says a lot about the inability of the government to manage a public service,” Ofreneo noted. —VDS, GMA News