By Corina Oliquino i FilAm Star Correspondent

Manila – The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), in charge of traffic management in the metro, claimed Metro Manila’s traffic woes has caused the country P3.5 billion in daily economic loss.

In a report by The Philippine Star, MMDA’s traffic czar Bong Nebrija compared the figure to that of the P2.4 billion lost to daily heavy traffic cited by the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) Follow Up Survey on the Roadmap for Transport Infrastructure Development for Greater Capital Region and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

According to the report, the JICA study’s economic cost of transportation term “refers to the vehicle operating cost and time spent by both drivers and passengers along Metro Manila’s busiest roads.”

Nebrija cited the Philippines’ lack of road infrastructure and the increasing number of vehicles in the metro to the daily traffic headache, noting the Government’s “Build, Build, Build” initiative may help ease Metro Manila’s traffic problem but would only persist due to the increasing number of private vehicles.

According to MMDA’s record, there is an average of 200,000 new vehicles being registered yearly in the National Capital Region (NCR).

He warns of further economic losses amounting to P5.4 billion in 2035 “if the traffic congestion in the country’s economic capital will not be addressed.”

In 2018, MMDA partnered with JICA to work on the capacity enhancement of the Philippines’ traffic reduction measure through its “Project for Comprehensive Traffic Management Plan for Metro Manila,” with the deal aimed at identifying and analyzing traffic bottlenecks to develop a five-year plan containing sustainable solutions on traffic management.

“To mitigate road traffic congestion on major corridors in Metro Manila,” MMDA and JICA have signed the Records of Discussion for the Technical Cooperation Project, which started this year and continue until 2022.

Too many malls
Nebrija also cited the presence of 31 malls in NCR, with 17 situated on EDSA and 14 on inner roads near it, labelling them as metro’s “traffic generators,” especially their mall-wide sales and other related activities, which contributed to 15 percent to 20 percent of vehicle congestion usually during Christmas season.

He also claimed their agency is having a hard time implementing solutions to the traffic woes, with both the public and the lawmakers strongly opposing any scheme they introduce, including the implementation of the high-occupancy vehicles policy which would ban vehicles with only the driver aboard on EDSA.

Nebrija said that they are now being challenged to scrap their bus ban policy, which would also reduce the number of coaches on EDSA.

Metro Manila averaged 49 deaths per day in 2018
In a separate report by MMDA titled Metro Manila Accident Reporting and Analysis System (MMARAS), it found NCR has recorded over 49 cases of non-fatal road injuries and one fatality per day in 2018, with 116,906 total road incidents recorded.

In another report by The Philippine Star, the figures suggest fewer recorded incidents with fatalities in 2018 compared with 2017, with 434 deaths from 434 recorded cases.

“It shows the effectiveness of the engineering solutions and interventions of the MMDA toward road safety,” the 2018 MMRAS report reads, which also noted October as the most dangerous month with 10,407 recorded traffic incidents, with December leading the list and labelled as the deadliest month with over 38 fatalities from 10,397 incidents.

The report also shows a total of 13,594 non-fatal motorcycle injuries and 224 fatal ones.