The expressways

The expressways

It was reported lately that negotiations on the planned merger of the toll road units of Metro Pacific Investment Corporation and San Miguel Corporation are moving smoothly. That is good news. Our cabalen from Apalit, Manuel Velez Pangilinan aka MVP and Ramon S. Ang aka RSA may finalize the deal within the year, according to reports. Traveling for motorists comes now easy because of these privately owned and operated by private corporations, but of course with a cost. May we ask where’s government now. It’s the primary job and concern of government to provide the road infrastructure which motorists can use freely. It should be the government through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) that will construct these highways so that, us motorists will not have to pay the toll fees. Imagine recently in a long holiday I went to a road trip that took me to Batangas and Cavite. I paid the toll amounts at NLEX, SKYWAY,SLEX and CALAX. Back and forth. Masakit sa bulsa.

Let’s retrace the birth of expressways in our country. It was 1962 and Diosdado Macapagal was the president. North Luzon Expressway ( NLEX) starting point was in Guiginto, Bulacan. And no fees were charged the users. It was 1962 and Diosdado Macapagal was president. It was under his watch when the Bureau of Public Highways started construction. Overtime, management of the expressway changed hands. When Ferdinand Marcos became president, the expressway was privatized and Rodolfo Cuenca’s Construction Development Corporation Philippine (CDCP) operated it. It changed hand again when Corazon Aquino was swept to power. The operation was handled by the Lopezes and in turn was flipped to Manny Pangilinan and is now operated by by Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation ( MPTC). Many, the latest Manny, made bundles along the way.

Let’s talk about roads. Almost half of our lives we pass through many of them, either by walking or riding a vehicle. There is a tragic stressnousness every time a motorist make use of them. We in the past many many years wanted government to end corruption in the construction of a national highway or even the so-called barangay road or a farm to market roads. But it seems, it will not end until kingdom come as long as we have that system popularly known in the circles as SOP. Ask a contractor what SOP means.

Traveling McArthur Highway from its starting point in Pangasinan up to Balintawak in Caloocan City is no smooth ride. There are several portions that have seen better days. All patchworks. Bumpy ride. (Paging DPWH Secretary Manuel Bonan. Sir you please drive between the Angeles-San Fernando stretch of the MacArthur Highway so you would understand the points of this article). Nerve wracking with all those tricycles and kolong kolong racing with brand new SUVs. Daredevil motorcycle riders, particularly food delivery drivers, who think they are Evil Knievel and have no fear of death. (No law enforcement). That particular stretch of the road needs to be replaced, or maybe asphalt layover throughout.

Another nerve wracking situations being experienced by motorists are these RFID on toll gates, particularly run by the Pangilinan group. We are paying for service which is palpak.The technology is there but it is far from perfect. RFID means Radio Frequency Identification. A radio frequency can read more than a kilometer distance. I experienced this in my travels in many countries. The expressways should cut travel time, but the queue at RFID lanes negate it.

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