‘Land-use law to ease traffic in cities’

THE passage of the proposed National Land Use Act will also help ease traffic and congestion issues in cities like Metro Manila, according to the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).

In a report to the United Nations, HUDCC said passing an effective land-use policy, as well as creating the Department of Housing and Urban Development (DHUD), are “crucial” in meeting the challenges of rapid urbanization.

Government efforts to put in place a land-use law in the past two decades have been futile.

“The enactment of a National Land Use Act that will rationalize the utilization of land resources and the creation of a DHUD to plan, manage and coordinate the implementation of plans, policies and programs for housing and urban development in the country,” the HUDCC said.

It added that passing a land-use law will be crucial in pushing for the adoption of the “Avoid-Shift-Improve framework.”

The “Avoid” part of the framework underscores the need for better land-use planning and travel-demand management. The “Shift” and “Improve” parts will encourage the use of sustainable means of transport—nonmotorized and public transport and consider vehicle and fuel efficiency.

“Among the major issues and concerns in traffic and transportation management are vehicle-volume reduction, the elimination of road obstructions and illegal structures, lack of road safety and poor law enforcement,” the HUDCC said.

The council said the Philippines urgently needs to put in place a land- use policy, as the vehicle-to-population ratio in the country has tripled in 22 years.  HUDCC said that in 2012, the total registered vehicles reached 7.5 million units. This was nearly five times the total number of vehicles registered in 1990.

Of the registered vehicles, more than 50 percent were motorcycles/tricycles and 27 percent of these were in Metro Manila.

The report stated that the average growth per year in the number of vehicles from 1990-2012 was 2.99 percent for cars, 5.01 percent for utility vehicles and 16.18 percent for sport-utility vehicles.

The annual growth for trucks was at 4.54 percent; buses, 3.11 percent; motorcycles, 11.47 percent; and trailers, 3.53 percent.

“In Metro Manila, about 70 percent of commuters take public transport, while 30 percent use private vehicles. However, the share of road space in Metro Manila is only 20 percent for public transport, while private vehicles occupy 80 percent. In other cities or towns, it is estimated that 80 percent take public transport,” the HUDCC said.

In a Transport Dream Plan for Metro Manila created in 2012, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) said the country’s traffic costs could balloon to P6 billion a day by 2030 if nothing is done about the traffic situation.

The transport road map emphasizes the need to establish better north-south connectivity and appropriate hierarchy of different transportation modes, such as roads, railways and other mass transits.

It also recommends planned and guided urban expansion to adjoining provinces through an integrated public transport, affordable housing for low income groups, retrofitting of existing urban areas in integration with public transport, expanding multimodal public-transport network and strengthening traffic management systems.

 

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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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