File photo by Kevin de la Cruz/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – At least 5 counterflow lanes will be implemented in “critical areas” around the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), following heavier-than-usual traffic that plagued the thoroughfare Friday, September 5.
According to the Philippine Information Agency-National Capital Region (PIA-NCR), counterflow lanes will be implemented in the following areas beginning Saturday afternoon, September 6:
The counterflow scheme, which is expected to help decongest the traffic caused by the high volume of cargo trucks heading to the Port of Manila, was finalized after a meeting between the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), and the Caloocan and Manila local government units.
“We are ready to to start this afternoon and it will be permanent until September 21, 2014,” the PIA-NCR quoted MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino as saying.
The task force is composed of the MMDA, the NCRPO, and the Philippine National Police’s Highway Patrol Group.
A little before 1 pm on Saturday, the NLEX said in its official Twitter account that both northbound and southbound directions along the expressway had "light traffic."
Meanwhile, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said all new renovations and side streets works in Caloocan will be suspended to ease the traffic in the area. Ongoing projects will be finished until September.
Singson said contracts and projects will resume in January 2015.
In an interview over state-run Radyo ng Bayan, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda apologized for the heavy traffic, while assuring citizens that the President’s men were already solving the problem.
Importers were given a September 8 deadline to claim over-staying but Customs-cleared cargo at Manila ports. If left unclaimed, the Philippine Ports Authority would transfer cargo to a different location.
“Kaya nga maraming mga (That's why there are many) truckers that are taking this time to really move out their empty containers and move them to Subic because there will be a fine imposed. Hindi naman pwedeng gawing warehouse po ang Port of Manila (We can’t let them turn the Port of Manila into a warehouse),” he said.
Port congestion is considered a “very high priority” by President Benigno Aquino III. Several government officials under the Cabinet Cluster on Port Congestion have been tasked to solve the problem. – Rappler.com