By the end of this month, even more patience will be asked from Metro Manila motorists and commuters. In preparation for the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG), which the Philippines is hosting this year, EDSA and other major roads will be subject to a stop-and-go scheme starting November 30.
Whenever a convoy carrying SEAG delegates will pass by a main thoroughfare or an intersection, traffic will be momentarily halted to let them pass. This is to ensure that the participants will make it to their events on time. According to a statement by MMDA, they will use yellow lanes, flyovers and underpasses while on EDSA.
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Despite this, MMDA Assistant Secretary Celine Pialago insists it will be more or less the "regular traffic" we experience along EDSA and other primary roads. “After the convoy passes, the situation will go back to normal,” she says in Filipino in an interview with ABS-CBN News two weeks ago. She also subsequently advised motorists to expect a heavier flow of traffic because the SEAG coincides with the holiday season. “We know it’s the ‘ber months. A big event like this will of course add to the heavy traffic,” she says.
The MMDA also identified problem areas where volume may be heavy and bottlenecks might occur during the 12-day regional sporting event.
This includes the South-Luzon Express Way (Northbound), Mindanao Avenue-North Avenue to North-Luzon Express Way, Roxas Boulevard corner Buendia, Roxas Boulevard corner P. Ocampo, Roxas Boulevard P. Burgos, Taft Avenue corner P. Ocampo, the Adriatico Rizal Memorial Sports Complex Area, Quirino corner Adriatico, Shaw Boulevard corner Pioneer, N. Domingo-FilOil, and Lawton Avenue corner Bayani Road.
All over the map
Running from November 30 until December 11, the 30th edition of the biennial SEAG will mark the fourth time the Philippines will host the regional event. It will be the first time in the its history that the games will be this spread out; competition venues will involve 23 cities—all in Luzon—divided into four clusters: Metro Manila, Clark, Subic/Olongapo, and stand alone venues.
In Metro Manila, thousands of people are expected to gather (and terrible traffic is expected to follow) at the following venues:
The Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, which includes the stadium, tennis center, and coliseum, will host taekwondo, weightlifting, football, tennis and soft tennis, aerobic, artistic and rhythmic gymnastics.
The Cuneta Astrodome and nearby Philippine International Convention Center Forum will be for the kickboxing and boxing events. Meanwhile, fencing, wushu, and karatedo will be an intersection away, at the World Trade Center. On the opposite direction of Roxas Boulevard, the Manila Hotel Tent will have the billiards events.
Badminton will be at the Makati Coliseum and the Muntinlupa Sports Complex while shooting will be based at the Marine Corps Training Center. The Manila Polo Club, on the other hand, will have the squash players battling in its exclusive courts.
Figure skating, speed skating, and ice hockey will be split between the rinks at SM Mall of Asia and SM Megamall. Starmall EDSA along Shaw will play host to the bowling competition while cycling will be at the Amoranto Sports Complex.
The historic Philsports Arena will be the venue for the increasingly popular sport of indoor volleyball while the University of the Philippines takes care of new event Obstacle Course Racing at the Sunken Garden. National religion basketball will be concentrated at the Mall of Asia Arena while the 3 x 3 competition will be at the Filoil Flying V Centre along with newcomer e-sports.
Preparations and perceptions
Apart from the sporting venues, around 20 hotels will be involved in the shuttling of the athletes and delegates. Despite these complications, no road closure nor one-way traffic schemes are expected to be implemented in the metro apart from two streets, Adriatico and P. Ocampo in Manila.
In a statement, the MMDA says that it’s been busy conducting clearing operations in the areas that heavy traffic flow is expected. They are doing this in tandem with the Philippine Sea Games Organizing Committee, the Philippine National Police and local government units, among others. Around 2,000 MMDA personnel will be deployed to the venues while the Highway Patrol Group will take care of the convoys.
Speaker Alan Cayetano, who heads the SEAG organizing committee, expressed the upcoming difficulties for those going on the road in the coming month in an interview with Rappler a couple of weeks ago. “Alangan namang ipapa-commute natin sila ng 3 to 4 hours para manood ng one-hour game, di ba? It’s really going to be a challenge.”
Last Monday, however, Cayetano said on ANC’s Headstart that he is confident that preparation are well on-track and that the event will be a turning point for the nation. “I believe it will be a rebranding or a reintroduction of the Philippines, especially for the West, for Europe and the US, and ibang countries,” he says, referring to outside perception of the country that only sees poverty, corruption, and gridlock traffic.
Through the SEA Games, Cayetano says “they’ll see the New Clark City, they’ll see the direction of the country, they’ll see it’s safer, they’ll see what a drug-free... or the suppression of drugs can do for our country.”