Coronavirus “Solves” Philippine’s Traffic Problem

Automologist Harold has long wanted something to be done about the traffic but feels that people are over-reacting.

With 52 confirmed COVID-19 cases, two deaths and a host of unreported cases in the Philippines, the Government has declared a Public Health Emergency. At the time of writing, the President has put the Philippines under World Health Organization Code Red Level 2, the highest health alert level. School classes have been suspended until 12 April. Work in the executive branch of Government has been suspended for seven days starting yesterday. All mass gatherings are prohibited. All citizens are enjoined to observe social distancing.

Image source: Ph. Yahoo

And here is the more difficult part: all domestic travel (land, sea and air) to and from Manila will be suspended for at least one week starting 15 March 2020. Incoming and outgoing international flights from and to countries with high level of COVID-19 cases (like China, Italy, Korea and Japan) are suspended indefinitely as well. Outgoing flights to countries that restricted Filipinos (like Qatar) are likewise suspended. This is a virtual travel lockdown. The reason for all this is the Government does not want the Philippines to go the way of Italy and Korea.

Image source: Top Gear

This has let to people panic-buying, avoiding travel, going to malls and public places. Malls and restaurants have become ghost towns, so expect the bankruptcy of the retail industry. Even before this Presidential order, airplanes, buses and jeepneys were virtually empty, and this will torpedo the transport industry. I find it unbelievable how the fear of the virus spread faster than the virus itself.

Image source: Cavitex

If there is one “good” thing that the coronavirus has done, it is to “solve” the monstrous traffic problem in the metropolis. Traffic on Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA), the epicentre of the Philippine traffic mess, has been light and flowing. Makati to North Edsa (some 20-kilometre stretch), which normally takes two hours to traverse, only takes 15 minutes now. This is true of the other major roads in Metro Manila.

Thanks, but no thanks, to the media for giving this virus over-prominence. People are over-reacting. Maybe the Government is over-reacting too. If this persists, many businesses will close—in fact, many companies are sending their employees on forced leaves of absence.

Let’s put this in perspective, shall we? As of 11 March 2020:

  • 4,291 coronavirus deaths worldwide, over a 6 month period.
  • 1,600 plus people died of dengue in the Philippines the last 12 months (vs. 2 deaths by coronavirus).
  • 15,109 people died of hunger the last 12 months.
  • 185,473 suicides in the last year.
  • 238,496 deaths by traffic accidents per year.
  • 441,885 alcohol-related deaths per year.
  • 883,209 smoking-related deaths per year.

Admittedly, the scare comes from the contagiousness of the virus. However, if this pandemic is mishandled by the Government, people will end up dying of poverty due to joblessness and not by the coronavirus.

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