It was not unusual in the not so distant past that going to work daily by using EDSA, either as a commuter or a motorist, was like betting your health and even our life to get through the day.
Riding a Metro Rail Transit-3 was an adventure of chance as several coaches either had leaks or in some cases had doors that open without warning.
To top it all, trains broke down in between stations, forcing commuters to dangerously walk the elevated tracks to reach one of the stops.
Downstairs, the situation was not any better as the daily plague of vehicular traffic was aptly termed as “carmaggedons” which was the result of poor infrastructure planning.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade recalled some of the other setbacks before President Rodrigo Duterte took the reins of government such as the “laglag bala” scam at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the issuance of paper driver’s licenses, the country being known as “Republikang Walang Plaka” as a result of delays in the issuance of car plates and the dearth of air and sea ports.
“When the Duterte administration took office in mid-2016, we were greeted with numerous long-standing issues that have tormented the country for years, and even decades,” Tugade said.
“It was then when travel through EDSA can be considered life threatening not only due to the pollution.
The traffic congestion was then worsened by illegal terminals, buses loading and unloading anywhere they want. There were no bike lanes then,” Tugade said.
He recounted that MRT-3 was compared to the horror movie Train to Busan, and was even called “MRTirik” as passengers were pestered by daily multiple breakdowns, unloading incidents, train derailment and hours of waiting time between trains.
Department of Transportation (DoTr) has made tremendous leaps in terms of improving other facets of the transportation sector, highlights of which are:
•When before laglag-bala and bukas-bagahe were rampant that consequently led to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport being tagged as one of the world’s worst airports, now NAIA is a secured gateway and now ranked 10th most improved airport in the world while its rehabilitation continues;
•Driver’s licenses will have a 10-year validity while backlogs were resolved;
•Metro Manila Subway is ongoing which targets a partial opening in April 2022 and full operations in 2025;
•Light Rail Transit-1 Cavite Extension Project which was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in 2000, only marked its progress in June 2016. Now, its construction is 54.41 percent complete;
•Philippine National Railways’ Clark Phase 1’s construction is being stepped up, which is 45.02 percent complete while new trains have been commissioned;
• Mindanao Railway Project which was conceived way back in 1950, received NEDA approval under the Duterte administration;
•LRT-2 East Extension construction is moving at an accelerated pace, with an overall progress rate of 96.51 percent with its inauguration set this June;
•After nine years of delay, the construction of the Common Station of the various railways is now ongoing, and will partially open in December;
•Since the onset of President Duterte’s term, the DoTr, and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines had completed 121 airport projects including the Bohol-Panglao International Airport, Mactan-Cebu International Airport, and Clark International Airport’s Terminal 2;
•114 new airports are underway including the Bicol International Airport, which now stands at 79.74 percent completion after a 13-year delay;
•From three air traffic radars, that cover only 30 percent of the Philippine airspace, the country now has a sophisticated Communications Navigation Surveillance-Air Traffic Management System;
•After a long delay, 10 air traffic radars have been added, resulting to a 100 percent airspace coverage;
•For the maritime sector, the DoTr and the Philippine Ports Authority, since 2016, had completed 426 projects including the country’s biggest passenger terminal building at Cagayan De Oro; and
•There are now 600 lighthouses in operation while the Philippine Coast Guard acquired modern maritime and aerial assets.
Much have changed as a result of non-stop construction of facilities and infrastructure that redound to the comfort of individuals.
Bottomline is achieving a “comfortable life for all Filipinos” as the President had envisioned.