Calamity declaration needed to deal with road congestion — MAP

A STATE of calamity should be declared in Metro Manila to unlock special powers to deal with extraordinary road congestion, according to the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP).

In a presentation to a House Committee on Wednesday, MAP Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Eduardo H. Yap said events causing P1 billion in damage typically qualify as calamities, and estimated the damage from road congestion at P3.5 billion daily.

Mr. Yap said such a declaration would trigger the expedited release of relief measures to deal with the problem.

“The MAP Holistic Plan calls for such a declaration, albeit a traffic crisis, and a new management task force headed by a traffic czar,” Mr. Yap said.

He said that there is a need to undertake a “comprehensive program consisting of short-, medium- and long-term measures to provide the soonest relief with administrative and management measures, and long-term sustainability through structural interventions, particularly transportation infrastructures focused on mass public transportation.”

He added that electric vehicles (EVs) should be encouraged through incentives and that public buses on the EDSA Busway be progressively converted to electric power.

Exempting private EVs from road congestion charges when such a system of travel demand management is set up could be one way to incentivize their adoption, according to Mr. Yap.

The congestion charges are part of the National Economic and Development Authority’s National Transport Plan, which aims to impose a “travel-demand-regulating” measure in busy roads such as EDSA. 

“Current efforts at building big-ticket transportation infrastructure and certain traffic measures will contribute to traffic decongestion, but all these disparate measures must be under a comprehensive plan, such as MAP’s Holistic Plan, to effectively address this multi-decade long traffic congestion problem which is worsening by the year,” Mr. Yap said. — Justine Irish D. Tabile