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Better mass transport soon

Maria Romero

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While Filipinos facing the daily commute in Metro Manila are used to hours of traffic and unpredictability, Department of Transportation (DoTr) officials remain committed to improving the country’s mass transport system.

This was assured by Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade at the CEO Forum in Pasay City on Wednesday.

Tugade underscored the DoTr’s initiative to move the Main Office in Metro Manila to Clark, Pampanga — “a simple but highly effective” move to decongest EDSA traffic.

According to a study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Metro Manila is the most congested city out of 278 cities in developing Asia. The Land Transportation Office (LTO) said National Capital Region accounted for the largest number of registered motor vehicles at 1,644,932 as of August last year.

“We are the first government office that actually moved to Clark, pioneering the ideas we initiated ourselves,” Tugade said.

In terms of managing the issuance of car plates, he said the agency now has robots that manufacture car plates in the country through the LTO plate-making facility.

Likewise, he also highlighted the DoTr’s accomplishments such as the completion of about 120 airport projects, including the recently-launched Sangley Airport; and the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, which continues to gather international recognition for its design.

The country’s first eco-airport, Bohol Panglao International Airport; and the La-lo International Airport in Cagayan; additional train sets for the Philippine National Railways’ fleet; and comprehensive rehabilitation of MRT-3 are also in the DoTr’s pipeline.

Throughout his tenure as the DoTr head, 299 commercial and social and tourism port projects nationwide are up for completion.

“We are an archipelago, that’s why one of the best means of transportation would be maritime. This would be the main reason we are continually developing ports nationwide,” Tugade said.

The Secretary also discussed the ongoing construction of six railways projects such as the Metro Manila Subway Project which now has its Tunnel Boring Machine parts to be used for its construction; LRT-1 Cavite Extension; the LRT-2 East Extension which is now 79.87 percent complete; North-South Commuter Railway Project; the MRT-7 which is currently at 50.69 percent completion rate; the Common Station; and the upcoming construction of the Mindanao Railway Project.

For its ongoing efforts to ease mobility throughout the country, Secretary Tugade said that DoTr is working to finish over 150 more airport projects, citing the Bicol International Airport that is now halfway complete (61.88 percent), the second Passenger Terminal Building of the Clark International Airport which is now at 90.14 percent completion rate.

He also clarified issues on the construction of Bulacan International Airport, saying: “The groundbreaking will soon commence. Please understand there have been simple delays because of some family matters on the part of the contractors. Out of respect, we will give them time.”

Tugade also said combatting corruption within the sector is still among their top priorities.

“We have committed to stopping and eradicating corruption. This is a non-compromising situation for us. The President is committed to stopping corruption at all costs. And I tell you, fellow businessmen, if you don’t want your government to be corrupt, please don’t corrupt us,” the secretary reiterated.

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