Expert: It’s the right time to solve MM traffic woes

The Philippine government should seize the day and take advantage of its strong financial position to solve the traffic problem in Metro Manila.

This was according to Almec Corp. Chairman Shizuo Iwata, who recently told reporters that the Philippines now has enough money to bankroll the “Dream Plan for Mega Manila.”

The Dream Plan for Mega Manila aims to decongest the area through major road and transportation-related projects. It also seeks to improve traffic management and modernize existing transportation facilities, such as buses and jeepneys. 

“There’s money. It’s the first time in the history for the master plan for Metro Manila,” Iwata said.  

“Before I did [a master plan for Metro Manila] in 1996, 1980, whenever we would have a dream plan, we always lack money so we have to reduce the size of the plan. So this is the first time in the history of Metro Manila” that the project will be backed in full financially, he quickly added.  Based on the Dream Plan crafted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), if the economy continues to grow at its current pace, it will have enough budget cover for the plan. 

Jica estimated the country’s local output, measured as its gross domestic product (GDP), growth must average at least 6 percent until the end of the Aquino presidency, 7.5 percent in the 2017-2022 period, and 5 percent in the 2023-2030 period for the proposed traffic-management plan to work effectively. 

If the country’s growth follows the projected path, the country’s annual infrastructure budget of 5 percent of GDP will reach P1.75 trillion in 2014-2016; P5.3 trillion in 2017-2022; and P9.8 trillion in 2023-2030. 

The budget for transport was estimated at 50 percent of the infrastructure budget, which means this will reach P539 billion in the 2014-2016 period; P1.52 trillion in the 2017-2022; and P2.69 trillion in the 2023-2030 period.

“It now has enough money to fund those projects. [The] government has money, private sector, especially private sector, they have the capacity, capabilities and money,” Iwata said. 

“But because of the very unclear decision-making process, many projects have been delayed, delayed, delayed. That’s the problem [and challenge],” he added. 

Data from Japan’s Dream Plan for Mega Manila show that Metro Manila was once a well-designed urban area.  In the 1920s to the 1930s, the population of Metro Manila was only 300,000. However, it’s tranvia or streetcar network, was 85 kilometers long, and served around 40 percent of total demand. 

Further, there was strategic and integrated development by the private sector between suburban line, housing development and power supply. 

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A professional journalist for over a decade, Cai U. Ordinario currently writes macroeconomic and urban development stories for BusinessMirror. She has received awards for excellence in reporting on the macroeconomy and statistics. She was also cited for her contribution to statics reporting by the National Statistical Coordination Board (now the Philippine Statistics Authority). She is a recipient of journalism fellowships including the Jefferson Fellowship from the Honolulu-based East West Center. She is currently completing her Masters degree in Communication at the University of the Philippines. She graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Arts Major in Journalism from the University of Santo Tomas.

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