Our Philippine correspondent, HAROLD, was caught in the massive jam in Manila last Tuesday. He recounts his experience and offers a solution or two…

Have you tried driving for over eight hours but travelled only less than 20 kilometers? I have…on 8 September 2015, in the great city of Manila! I left my last meeting for the day at about 6.30pm in Ortigas Center, Pasig (Eastern Part of Metro Manila) and I arrived home (Paranaque—Southern Part of Metro Manila) at 3.00am, the next day. To be clear, Pasig and Paranaque are in the same time zone. The reason for my drawn-out journey? One hour of heavy rain + dysfunctional drainage system + absence of traffic policemen = “carmageddon”.

While I love Manila, I passionately hate the traffic jams. During this eight-hour “carmageddon,” over one million cars were jammed into a stretch of EDSA, the lower South Superhighway and upper Expressway; millions of Filipinos were miserably hungry, terribly angry and woefully helpless inside their cars. Many ran out of gas. Drivers slept inside their cars. And, the worst, where were they to go for the expulsion of “liquids” or “solids” from their stressed-out bodies?

On the brighter side, some “celebrated” their birthdays – without food and drinks – with strangers inside passenger buses, jeepneys and public vans, while their family, friends and loved ones were waiting for them to come home to the party prepared for them.

I saw people walking in what were pedestrian-restricted streets under usual circumstances to buy food and drinks, and look for toilets to relieve themselves. On street intersections and bus stops stood hundreds of thousands of people waiting helplessly for a ride. Good thing the drivers did not think to enact the 1997 video game “carmageddon”, or they would have run over all those pedestrians.

Tens of millions of litres of fuel were wasted that night, and hundreds of thousands of engines’ oil oxidised as engines idled or kept stopping-and-going. The fuel wastage and engine damage were mitigated, though, for those car and truck engines treated with the X-1R Engine and Fuel System Treatments.

Unless the government acts fast, we will see these “carmageddons” more often, whenever there are heavy rains. This Automologist is humbly suggesting the following solutions, so that this incident is not repeated:

1. DREDGE AND DE-CONGEST IMMEDIATELY all drainage choke points and revamp the management of the flood control bureau;

2. PROVIDE IMMEDIATE AND RELIABLE RAINFALL ADVISORY so that cars can be temporarily redirected to mall parking lots and people can stay in the meantime in malls, shopping centres and even their offices until the flash floods are over (should subside fast if the flood control system is working well);

3. PROVIDE TRAFFIC POLICEMEN WITH PROPER RAINCOATS AND GEARS so they can man the traffic even during heavy rains;

4. IMPLEMENT A CAR POOL SYSTEM on EDSA; C-5; Quezon, Ayala & Gil Puyat Avenues, Aurora, Roxas & Espana Boulevards. Car pool being at least three in a vehicle;

5. IMPLEMENT TRAFFIC RULES STRICTLY, NO MORE BRIBERY. It is the bribery that makes people think they can get away with the violation. They say in the Philippines, the only real traffic offense that is punishable is “Driving without Money”. Stop bribing cops and traffic aides. If you violate the law, pay the proper fine, suffer the consequence.

Over and above the immediate actions mentioned, for the longer term, the Philippines needs:

1. PROPER MASS TRANSIT system with sufficient trains that leave every three minutes and with an efficient loading and unloading system;

2. RATIONALISED JEEPNEY ROUTES. Dispatch them to feeder roads and rural areas;

3. ROAD-WORTHY VEHICLES only to be allowed on the streets;

4. PROPER CAR INSURANCE SYSTEM whereby traffic violators pay higher premium as a consequence;

5. GENUINE DISCIPLINE. A disciplined citizen obeys the law, shows road courtesy, follows rules and regulations and shows respect for others.


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