Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Patients die as Manila traffic jams

Special lanes for emergency vehicles are not enforced, the infrastructure is outdated, and local drivers are often unwilling or unable to make way  a situation experts say is causing patients to die en route.

President Rodrigo Duterte again chided Sen. Grace Poe for supposedly blocking his emergency powers to ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila, saying that the traffic gridlock in the capital region was the lawmaker’s “legacy.”

The President said Poe had been suspicious that the money for traffic-related projects could be lost to corruption.

A patients die as Manila traffic jams block ambulances.

Gridlock in Manila is costing lives as ambulances stuck in traffic face severe delays in the race against the clock to reach the city’s hospitals, medics warn.

The most difficult problems—such as the EDSA traffic—sometimes need extreme ideas to solve them. At this point, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) seems to remain open to any suggestion.

Even with an encyclopedic knowledge of short cuts or aggressive driving such as blasting their horns or bumping unyielding vehicles, it is not always enough to arrive in time.

The MMDA entertained a proposal for a one-way scheme on EDSA and C5 to solve the metro’s traffic woes. Now, agency spokesperson Celine Pialago notified us that a ‘vehicular brand reduction program’ will be presented to the MMDA on Monday, September 2, 2019.

What can government do about people dying in ambulances because of Metro Manila’s infamous traffic jams? Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo suggested the use of choppers to airlift patients. But why did they do that?

Panelo said government hospitals can ask the Philippine military to let them use their choppers for such emergency situations.

It’s one of the ways government can be “creative” in dealing with the literally deadly traffic nightmare in the megacity while the Duterte government does not have emergency powers over the situation.

Of course, like the current number-coding scheme imposed on EDSA at the moment, the proposed scheme makes a number of exemptions for certain vehicles. See the list of exempted vehicles below:

  • Ambulance, fire trucks, police patrol cars, military vehicles
  • Cargo trucks, other heavy vehicles (trucks weighing 4,500kg and above)
  • Vehicles accredited by the Department of Tourism
  • Vehicles commandeered by the government—duly directed by a person in authority or his agent, a medical practitioner, or a military relief—for emergency purposes
  • Vehicles carrying a person needing immediate medical attention (in case of emergencies)
  • Vehicles with diplomatic plates
  • Trucks accredited by the MMDA
  • Government vehicles with appropriate plates or LTO stickers


We have yet to find out other details about this proposed coding scheme. Just like you, we have so many questions. We will have to wait until the presentation to get answers.

In the meantime, Do you think something this extreme would actually work?

Despite the crisis-level proportions of Metro Manila’s traffic woes, Duterte has not certified as urgent any legislative measure to grant his government emergency powers.

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