To solve EDSA traffic, Sotto says ban parking along Metro Manila streets

MANILA, Philippines – To ease traffic congestion along EDSA, Metro Manila's main road, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said city streets around it should be cleared of parked vehicles.

This way, private vehicles do not have to add to the volume that congest EDSA because they can take the alternative routes to their destinations, leaving the major thoroughfare to buses. 

"I go back to my original proposal – noong araw pa ito, walang nakikinig; may nakinig konti lang. Ang talagang solusyon to decongest EDSA ay 'No parking' in Metro Manila," Sotto said during the Senate committee on public services' hearing on the provincial bus ban. 

(I go back to my original proposal – I have been saying this before, but no one listens; there are a few who listened. The real solution if we want to decongest EDSA is to implement "No parking" [policy] in Metro Manila.)

Sotto cited his own daily commute from his house in Quezon City to the Senate in Pasay City and back. If he drives through EDSA, it takes him two hours and 15 minutes; if he takes city streets – even with obstructions here and there – it would take him one hour and 30 minutes. 

While getting private cars off EDSA, local governments should vigorously conduct road clearing operations, Sotto said.

"If you remove all these parking, ang EDSA, luluwag 'yan dahil hindi na nila (private cars) kailangan dumaan doon. Ang daming bus eh. Hayaan mo na ang mga commuter dumaan sa EDSA. 'Yung ibang sasakyan, sa loob," Sotto said.

(If you remove all these parked vehicles, EDSA will surely be decongested because private cars no longer have to pass through it. There are a lot of buses. Leave the EDSA to commuters. The rest of the vehicles, let them use the inner roads.)

Sotto, for example, challenged the city government of Manila and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority to clear Zobel Roxas Street along the boundary of Manila and Makati City, so that it becomes an alternative to EDSA.

No garage, no car

In connection with this, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said "it's about time" Congress passes the "Proof of Parking" bill he has refiled under the 18th Congress. The measure seeks to require a car buyer to present proof that he has a parking space before he is sold the unit, so as to prevent them from using streets as parking lots. 

"Kawawa ang mga mayor. Araw-araw ho nanghuhuli, nangto-tow. Wala pang 24 hours, nakaparada na [naman] doon. Mahirap mag-tow. Parang cat and mouse na 'to," Gatchalian said.

(The mayors are at a losing end. They apprehend violators every day, tow every day. In less than 24 hours, these cars are back. It's difficult to tow. It's lika cat-and-mouse chase.)

Road clearing is seen as one way of easing traffic. In his State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo Duterte warned local officials that they would be suspended if they fail to take action reclaiming all public roads.

On July 29, the 60-day countdown for mayors to clear roads began. The priority roads to be cleared are high-traffic roads.

Apart from road clearing, lawmakers are also suggesting again transferring government centers to outside of Metro Manila. This, Sotto and Gatchalian said, should help decongest the metropolis while at same time develop the areas around it. – Rappler.com

Other stories from the hearing: 

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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