2/25/2015
Plan? What plan?

Turns out you don't need to do research on road networks, public transport options and vehicle numbers to understand just how terribly planned Metro Manila is. You just have to live in it.

Let me throw in my voice to this angry cacophony. Who the hell thought closing a big chunk of the city's most important highway would not lead to trouble?

Remember that time when a heavy truck's brakes gave way, causing it to slide backward while perched on an on-ramp along C5? You know, the accident early in the morning that hit eight cars, killed one person, and closed all but one lane in the southbound side?

Remember how bad traffic got along C5 as recovery teams struggled to clear the area? I do, because I happened to drive there on that day. The accident wasn't on the northbound side, where I was, but it was crawling anyway.

"Puro usisero," you might say, but the line went all the way to the roads leading to Ortigas. All of the stuck vehicles on the southbound side prevented those making a turn from, well, turning. I was stuck on a U-turn slot for thirty minutes, and then I spent fifteen more minutes changing lanes and finally heading to Tiendesitas.

Remember how bad traffic got along EDSA as recovery teams struggled to clear an accident area on a completely different road?

Remember how bad traffic got along SLEX and NLEX as recovery teams struggled to clear an accident area on a completely different road?

Who the hell thought closing a big chunk of the city's most important highway would not lead to trouble?

Who the hell thought closing a pretty long segment of EDSA, from Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong to Bonny Serrano Avenue in Quezon City, would not lead to trouble?

Who the hell thought closing that segment of EDSA from midnight to four in the afternoon - a full sixteen hours - for an event that will start at eleven in the morning and end, I don't know, two or three hours later, would not lead to trouble?

Who the hell thought forcing buses plying the EDSA route to travel through the six-lane Shaw Boulevard, or to the ten-lane C5, would not lead to trouble?

Who the hell thought blocking a major route to the Ortigas Center, one of the biggest business districts in the capital, forcing all vehicles heading there to take different, less-equipped routes, and causing all other vehicles going elsewhere to get stuck, would not lead to trouble?

Who the hell thought announcing this at short notice would not lead to trouble?

Who the hell?

Okay. Yes, this isn't the first time they've closed the roads to allow for the marking of the anniversary of the first EDSA revolution. However, they did not close this big a stretch before. Traffic was snarled in previous years, sure, but it was minimal, manageable. I don't know. Why now, and why at short notice, and why for a "simple" celebration, as some have said? Is it the rumors of a destabilization plot? Paranoia? Some weird ploy to make people feel revolutionary?

But that's beside the point. This short-sighted decision is beside the point, really. Now you really know how terribly planned Metro Manila is. Here we are, in a city that didn't focus on improving the quality and quantity of public transportation options, a city that virtually encouraged its citizens to buy multiple vehicles, a city whose roads are designed to bring people from A to B and just that - and one little thing puts everyone in a tizzy. Stuck in the roads for three hours on average. Decreasing productivity, paralyzing trade, causing stress, leading to realizations that, no matter what you do, this is what you have to live with until you die.

My sister and I were discussing this one day, and we both came to the realization that, perhaps, the only way to fix the whole traffic issue is to start over. Demolish everything and rebuild everything from the ground up. Maybe then we can build a road network that's sensible and forward-looking. Maybe then we can build a train system that reaches most nooks and crannies, allowing people to move without the need to splurge for a car or feel unsafe in a sardine-like train wagon. Maybe then we can put up strict regulations on our bus drivers, our jeepney drivers, our taxi drivers.

But of course that's impossible, so whoever's in power is forced to reverse-engineer the entire situation. That's going in high velocity lately, with infrastructure projects within Metro Manila, and leading out of Metro Manila - hopefully triggering growth elsewhere and, maybe, decongest the capital - in full swing. But of course that will take a long time, a lot more stress, and a handful of messages that say "let us sacrifice now" or something similar. Maybe what we need is a big jolt of something, a drastic measure. But of course that will get a lot of backlash.

So, I don't know. I'll just prepare to leave for my next appointment, four hours earlier than planned, and wonder what the hell was going on when the planners of this city got together to deal with this city, well, getting bigger than expected. Also, plan? What plan?

And your responses...

Post a Comment