One of Metro Manila’s worst problems is that it is car-centric. This is a well-known fact for those who live here. Alternative modes of transport seem to just now be gaining steam, partly because of some of the projects under ‘Build, Build, Build.” But if you really think about it, Metro Manila decongestion doesn’t mean just putting up a few bike lanes and hoping people start ditching their cars.
The Duterte administration’s plan to ease traffic in the capital region through infrastructure is a good idea at first glance. 15 minutes from Quezon City to Makati sounds like a dream. However, there must also be a shift in focus towards decentralization. Metro Manila is congested because everyone is here.
So, in addition to providing options for alternative transport inside NCR, an integral part of the Metro Manila decongestion masterplan is developing the infrastructure outside the capital region.
Decongesting EDSA is just the first step
It would seem that we are heading in the right direction. Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar is confident that the EDSA Decongestion Program will be completed by 2022. This is the first step. Unclog EDSA – the main artery of the metro – and you improve the flow through the city.
In fact, one of the main benefits of the recently completed Skyway Stage 3 project is to connect the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) with the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). This means that people don’t even have to pass through the other thoroughfares of the metro anymore on their way from north to south (and vice versa).
The more crucial part of Metro Manila decongestion is improving the areas right outside our borders. The good thing is that we’re already headed in that direction.
Better infrastructure means better opportunities
The EDSA decongestion and the smaller infrastructure developments inside Metro Manila are short-term wins. The long-term and more sustainable plan in solving congestion is to create better options for people outside NCR.
The reason Metro Manila is congested is because majority of the major economic opportunities are here. It has stopped being sustainable in recent years, as studies show that we are losing billions in revenue everyday because of traffic. Fortunately, ‘Build, Build, Build’ is not just focused in developments within Metro Manila.
When you have highways, developments follow. The flow of people and goods hastens, and people can seriously consider expanding business and residence to farther areas. As it stand right now, it would seem that the infrastructure projects of the Duterte government are ushering us into the “Golden Age” of businesses in Luzon.
That’s why it’s important that the current infrastructure projects push through and all be completed. Better infrastructure means better opportunities for all. The roads toward that #BetterPhilippines are literally being paved right now.
Make Metro Manila “just” one of the options
For many decades people have dreamed of relocating to Metro Manila. Some don’t even think about staying at first, but 50 years later, they’re still here. For people in the provinces, it used to be such an accomplishment to go and live in the capital region. We must make it an option, not the best or only choice. That is the mission.
Metro Manila decongestion doesn’t just mean building roads, bridges, and highways. It’s expanding opportunities to include nearby cities and provinces. It’s laying the foundation for better lives for millions of Filipinos.