August 1, 2013
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is crafting a Transport Infrastructure Development Roadmap for Mega Manila to help ease congestion in the metropolis and to help attract more investments.
The roadmap, which is expected to be finished this month, cites the urgent need to decongest traffic in Metro Manila and spread economic activities to potential growth centers in Regions III and IV-A, particularly Cavite, Subic, Clark, Tarlac, Batangas, and Lucena, to cite a few.
The Mega Manila Transport Dream Plan being proposed by JICA will help the Philippines save P2.4 billion per day, the estimated economic and financial losses to traffic congestion.
"We want to help the Philippine government attract more investments and create jobs in other areas in the country. Hopefully, this roadmap would be able to assist the Philippines in setting policies and strategies in tackling transportation challenges, particularly in Metro Manila," said JICA Philippines Chief Representative Takahiro Sasaki.
He added that once implemented, the plan can help spur long-term investments in areas such as manufacturing, agro-based industries, services, and tourism among others, and further accelerate industrial development in the Clark-Subic and Batangas-Lipa areas.
According to the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, about 3,000 companies employing 800,000 workers are mostly located in Calabarzon and Central Luzon, declared as economic zones.
JICA's proposed roadmap, which is part of a technical assistance project to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), outlines short-term and long-term components, citing the need to boost infrastructure development such as new gateway airports and seaports, improved road networks and expressways, integrated urban mass-transit network in Metro Manila, road-based public transport modernization, and "soft" components such as upgrading of traffic management system.
According to the roadmap, demand for mass transit in Mega Manila will likely reach 7.4 million passengers a day by 2030. Today, 71% of trips in Metro Manila rely on buses and jeepneys.
The roadmap identifies rising population in Metro Manila, increased hazard risks to families living along waterways, a housing backlog, and traffic congestion as among the challenges that need to be tackled to ensure that economic benefits spill over to other areas.
The proposed roadmap also cites cases of successful cities like Tokyo, Yokohama, New York, Hong Kong, and Singapore whose railway share of 20% to 62% has been helping improve traffic.