Opposition Senator Chiz Escudero yesterday urged the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to prepare a traffic plan for Monday's school opening to prevent the perennial and costly gridlock in Metro Manila which is costing the economy billions.
"Time and again, the opening of classes worsens the traffic situation in Metro Manila. As the roads become congested, our country suffers direct and indirect economic losses by the billions?" Escudero said.
"With all its resources, including the video tracking devices at its disposal, the MMDA will make no excuses when commuters get tangled up in traffic," he said.
The senator said that a total of 18.6 million students in primary and secondary educational institutions nationwide will report for class on Monday, along with some 700,000 college students, most of whom are in Metro Manila.
He added that of the 5.53 million registered vehicles nationwide, over 30 percent are in Metro Manila.
"These vehicles ply a 4,900 kilometer road network enclosed in a 635 square-meter area. One needs not wonder then that traffic in the metropolis will move at a snail's pace if it is not managed well," Escudero noted.
He said that according to Citizen's Traffic Watch, a non-government organization, more than P15 billion a year is lost to delays due to the traffic mess in Metro Manila.
"This is even a conservative estimate. The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) even approximate the losses due to traffic at P140 billion a year, taking into consideration the direct and indirect economic losses," the senator explained.
Escudero said another study undertaken six years ago by the UP Center for Transportation Studies estimates the direct economic losses due to traffic at P100 billion annually, excluding the indirect losses.
"This is lot of money wasted because of incompetence," he said. "This is a handicap which has cost in terms of investments lost."