Metro Manila has a transport problem and not a crisis, according to Department of Transportation (DoTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade as he indicated that solutions are underway to ease the current plight of commuters and motorists.
He insisted that even without emergency power, road congestion will be addressed while appealing for discipline from the public which he said would be a big help in easing the traffic problems.
The Transport chief chided militant groups for infusing a different meaning to the current difficulties which, in reality, he said, has solutions coming.
“The word crisis has a different meaning. In my view, we have issues confronting public transportation in the capital city, but it is not a crisis,” Tugade asserted in a radio interview.
He added that the problems are also mostly temporary as a result of the massive infrastructure buildup that the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte had embarked on.
The problem of heavy vehicle traffic was due to the construction of infrastructure that will help ease the gridlock in the long run.
Short-term, mid-term and long-term — solutions are being put in place to address the problems, he guaranteed.
The potential privatization of the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2) is also being considered, the Transport chief told reporters at the sidelines of the ribbon-cutting and unveiling of AirAsia’s new headquarters.
“Those are options that are open (to us). Whether it will materialize, only the future can tell,” Tugade said.
Government-owned Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) currently operates and maintains LRT-2, which has 11 stations, from Santolan in Pasig City up to Recto Avenue in the city of Manila.
Calls in the Senate sought the government to look into the possibility of privatizing LRT-2 to avoid disruptions in operations.
Chief presidential legal counsel and presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said just because he disagrees with the leftist organization’s theory on the existence of a mass transport crisis, it does not mean that he is unaware of the vexing daily commute, as well as the burden caused by the worsening traffic conditions in Manila.
Panelo said the present traffic woes and inadequate mass transit system have been the bane of the people, more specifically those living and working in Metro Manila.
He also insisted that the perennial problems are a carry-over of two previous administrations and inherited by the present one.
“This administration wanted to address the same immediately, but Congress opted not to grant the President the emergency powers he asked from it at the inception of his presidency to solve it,” Panelo said.
“Had the critics and the nitpickers read the transcript of my remarks in the press briefing yesterday, they would have readily understood that when I said there is no mass transit crisis, I meant there is no mass transit crisis simply because there is no mass transit paralysis. Even the recent nationwide transport strike failed in paralyzing the mass transport,” he added.
After years of neglect
At the same time, the Palace official said the problems in the mass transit system (LRT and MRT) are products of many years of neglect by previous administrations.
He said the administration, however, considers these problems have solutions and the LRT and MRT management are already doing something about it.
With Angelica Ballesteros