PH loses ₱3.5B a day due to Metro Manila traffic – JICA

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The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) said the losses may go as high as ₱5.4 billion a day by 2035. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 23) — The Philippines is now losing ₱3.5 billion a day due to traffic congestion in Metro Manila, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) said Thursday.

In in its 2014 report partnering with the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), the country suffered ₱2.4 billion losses daily due to Metro Manila traffic. The report then projected ₱3.5 billion in daily losses by 2017.

"If we do nothing, it will become ₱5.4 billion a day in 2035, but with BBB (Build, Build, Build, Program), it will be reduced to ₱3 billion a day. With additional projects, it will be reduced to ₱2.4 billion a day," JICA Philippines Office Chief Representative Susumu Ito said, according to the Philippine News Agency.

The 2014 report said traffic demand stood at 12.8 million vehicle trips in the metro. It added traffic volume exceeded the capacity of most urban roads.

Traffic cost in Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal had also reached ₱2.3 billion a day in 2017.

Ito presented on Thursday the 2017 road map data to the 36th Joint Meeting of the Economic Cooperation Committees of the Philippines and Japan, according to the state news agency. But NEDA said the data is still pending review and approval.

The BBB program is the Philippine government's medium-term goal to hike infrastructure spending from 5.4 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017, to 7.3 percent by the end of President Rodrigo Duterte's term in 2022. The government plans to spend ₱9 trillion under this program.

Long-term solutions

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Transportation Undersecretary Tim Orbos acknowledged that traffic in the country has considerably worsened.

He added, however, it also means the government is “on the right track” with its projects.

He said while government projects being constructed may aggravate traffic now, they will have long-term benefits in the future.

“Other than doing a do-nothing scenario... it may take some time, it may take a year or two, even three years with all the projects ongoing, but this will definitely be in the line of solving these things,” he said.

He also said there were several factors contributing to the traffic, like the improving economy and population growth.

“We have to acknowledge that the economy's getting better and therefore there's a lot of transactions going on,” he added.

Orbos said the government is looking into policies and modes of transport like the railway to help cut losses. The government is targeting to build more than 1000 kilometers of railways by the Duterte administration’s end.

More infrastructure to ease traffic

NEDA Director-General Ernesto Pernia, meanwhile, said 2018 will see the rollout of 34 infrastructure projects to improve transport networks and ease traffic congestion in the Philippines, including the metro.

The Metro Manila Subway Project is expected to break ground in the third quarter of the year. Its first phase will be a 25.3-kilometer underground rail connecting Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City, to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the South.

Twelve bridges along the Pasig-Marikina rivers and the Manggahan Floodway will also begin construction and improvement this year.

Other projects to kick off  include the Panguil Bay Bridge Project which will connect Misamis Occidental and Lanao del Norte, the Mindanao Rail Project's first phase spanning 102-kilometers of rail network in Davao City, and the Philippine National Railway North 2 and south long-haul.

"Let me reiterate that infrastructure is crucial. It is a sine qua non in development.  It is a necessary but not a sufficient condition, however. What we aim is an infrastructure boom that serves not only the economy, but more importantly, the people," Pernia said.