Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sangil: Tong Payumo’s tunnel is worth looking at

Trending Toda Max

IT’S a distinct privilege that I can call Tong Payumo a friend. We spent time together at Bases Conversion Development Authority, him as chairman and me a member of the board of directors. And even when we were both out of BCDA we met several times. One time I remember he invited me to Manila Polo Club, the hub of the super rich in this country for lunch and that was the first time I heard from him the idea of constructing a tunnel road that will connect Bataan and Zambales to Metro Manila and Cavite.

Payumo over the years was pushing for the Cavite-Corregidor-Bataan tunnel project which for sure will decongest traffic on EDSA and other thoroughfares in the Metro Manila area. In his one-on-one with Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez recently they discussed a possible ODA loan from Japan which will cost our government only 2 percent over 40 years with a grace period of ten years.

According to the former congressman and chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority ‘tunneling is not a rocket science.’ There are several tunnels now that connects countries like the one that joined France and England. A bridge tunnel that connects Yokohama and Chiba prefecture across Tokyo bay. Some years back I experienced together with friends like Manny Alfonso, Ray Dizon and Romy Pecson passing a tunnel from Copenhagen,Denmark to Sweden. Each one of us said WOW!

Until today, there are so many suggestions and experiments. So many ridiculous and crazy ideas on how to solve the traffic problem, particular concern is the one that beset the whole of Metro Manila. The traffic problem is no longer a monopoly of Metropolitan Manila, but also a serious concern of every cities in the country, and even in small towns like Porac and Magalang. There are close to 2,000 sand and gravel trucks passing through the two lane Angeles-Porac road. Former Porac Councilor Mike Tapang has been suggesting a road parallel to the mega dike. The Department of Public Works should include Tapang’s suggestion under the “Build,Build, Build” program.

I remember there was even a time when there was plan to give President Duterte an emergency power to solve the traffic mess in many urban centers. Too trivial for a president to be dragged. I remember also that Department of Transportation Secretary Art Tugade saying something like he can lick the problem in three months, but the problem is too complicated and huge that not even three years, a real solution can be found. As it is estimated, the Philippines loses something like P3 billion a day due to the traffic gridlocks. I oftentimes said you don't have to re-invent the wheels to ease congestion. Ingenuity is not even necessary. So simple.

So may I repeat what I we humbly suggested then regarding the nagging traffic issue. For big towns and cities, an ordinance can be enacted and require all establishments malls, casinos, call centers, offices and every commercial establishments to provide shuttle buses to their officers and employees. The number of shuttles is based in the ratio of each establishments’ employees. Example: If an office has 50 to 60 employees= one shuttle and if more than 60, then two shuttle buses, if more than a thousand then the ratio per shift.

Provide a minimum of two lanes for all buses, transport and shuttles. In cases where the road is five lanes on both like in EDSA, the three lanes should be exclusive to the buses, and the remaining two for private vehicles.

Only private cars with not less than two passengers can be allowed to ply the innermost lane. The others on secondary lane.

Get the colorum buses out of the roads, and sell these to small companies for use as their shuttles.

Stricter law enforcement. Remove 'happy Friday' wherein some bus and jeepney associations pay regular 'contributions' to road enforcers.

Remove all smoke belchers and penalize emission test companies which issued the clearance. All the above are worth trying.