Decongesting the infrastructure problem
Business Mirror.com.ph by Rizal Raoul Reyes, 12-02-2014
TO sustain the country's economic growth, the government must
implement solid measures toward solving the traffic and inefficient
transport system, especially in the metropolis.
In a recent briefing held recently in Makati City, Jose Carmelo
Porciuncula, head of business operations and capital markets of KMC
MAG Group Inc., said the country's poor and inadequate
infrastructure costs P2.4 billion a day. He said the country is not
short of solutions in solving the infrastructure problem.
"All the things needed to improve the traffic situation are
ready and waiting for the go signal," said Porciuncula in an
interview with the BusinessMirror.
To begin with, he said the plans are there, "such as the Japan
International Coordinating Agency's (Jica) Roadmap for Transport
Infrastructure Development for Metro Manila and Its Surrounding
Areas." Government agencies such as the Department of
Transportation and Communications, Department of Public Works and
Highways, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, and other
relevant agencies closely in coordination with Jica cited the need
for strategies to reduce traffic congestion significantly before it
impacts the lower-income group who will be hardest hit when
congestion worsens by 2030.
"The study shows possible ideas, technologies and strategies
that can help the Philippines address traffic congestion and air
pollution in Metro Manila. Jica hopes to work with the government
in implementing some of these ideas to help improve mobility, and
the quality of life of people as well as their surrounding areas,"
said Jica Philippines senior representative Eigo Azukizawa in a
statement posted on Jica's web site.
"Financial resources are not a problem, as the Philippines can
easily access funds for such projects as it enjoys a good credit
standing from the credit rating agencies. The Philippines has the
best credit ratings it has ever had that results in a cheaper
debt," said Porciuncula.
Among the strategies listed in the Jica study at the regional
level are spreading economic activities to other potential growth
areas, including balancing development of agriculture,
manufacturing and services, protecting prime agricultural areas for
food security, avoiding urban sprawl in hazard risk areas,
promoting growth of regional centers, strengthening connectivity,
and improving public transport services and logistics.
The study called for the implementation of an Intelligent
Transport System, or ITS, to maximize the city's existing road
capacity. Jica noted the ITS aims to establish better traffic
engineering and management that requires geometric improvements,
pedestrian facilities, traffic surveillance, accident prevention,
traffic safety education and traffic enforcement. An example of
ITS, as discussed in the study, requires a signal control system,
travel time prediction, road maintenance, intelligent parking,
incident detection and bus scheduling assistance, among others.
However, Porciuncula lamented the lackadaisical pace of
implementation. "The main issue is lack of political will,"
he said. Decongesting Metro Manila is a step in the right direction
as part of the regional development plan. This should include the
setting of urban areas outside the proximity of Metro Manila such
as Cavite, Laguna and Bulacan.
Porciuncula said the government must also craft a spatial
development concept that would develop an integrated transportation
and road networks, connecting the North Luzon Expressway and South
Luzon Expressway, establishment of a high-quality and capacity mass
transit system, gateway port development and gateway airport
development (Sangley Point) and integration of all road
He said upgrading the country's infrastructure is quite
important to ensure the sustainability of the tourism industry as
it continues to attract more foreign tourists. Tourism department
data reported that foreign tourist arrivals from January to
September 2014 reached 3.59 million, higher by 2.57 percent as
compared to the 3.50 million from the same period last year.
However, Porciuncula said that there is still a lot to be
done as the biggest hindrance to growth is the infrastructure's
limited capacity. "The rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino
International Airport is purely cosmetic, and the infrastructure
still lacks support to accommodate more planes," he said.
"There is a need for more runways or airports in order to absorb
more transit arrivals. The hotel and leisure industry is all about