MANILA - The Commission on Audit (COA) has called out the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority for its "seemingly random and disorganized solution" in handling traffic problems.
This, after the MMDA allegedly failed to effectively utilize funds in solving the traffic congestion due to lack of detailed implementation plans on traffic management.
In the Annual Audit Report, COA said the MMDA was given P1.479 billion traffic and transport management funds in 2015. But its proposed projects had no specific timelines on how and when it will will achieve its targets and objectives in ensuring a smooth traffic flow.
"Traffic problem is a colossal problem that affects paramount national interest such as economy and the environment as well as public health and safety. As such, it is imperative that all activities to address the problem is done through effective planning and management, so as rightly to put in the Roadmap, with more science," COA reiterated.
"In the absence of detailed targets specified in a written implementation plan, it cannot be ascertained the whether activities and projects already implemented were indeed directed to its target goals at certain periods of time and how close it is to ultimate intended outcome."
COA, citing the study of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2014, added that traffic problems in Metro Manila cost society P2.4 billion a day in 2014, and an estimated P6 billion a day by 2030 "if nothing is done."
The MMDA's transport management budget includes P161.827 million for programs and operations, P19.478 million for the South-West Integrated Provincial Terminal, P391.376 million for the upgrading of traffic signal system, P9 million for the construction of Katipunan footbridge, P37.708 million for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) event in 2015, P835.34 for Traffic Discipline Office and P25 million for MMDA Traffic Institute and Theater.
But upon audit, COA found the traffic signaling system was only upgraded by 18.5 percent as of December 2015. Only two out of eight footbridges were also constructed: one in Ortigas Avenue-EDSA completed in November 2015, and another in NAIA-PAGCOR Drive in January 2016.
COA could not also determine if the procurement of over P60 million worth of vehicles was needed and could help solve the traffic problem in a short- or a long-term basis. This includes the purchase of two passenger vans, six 26-seater ferry boats, two Ducati motorbikes, 40 Kawasaki motorcycles, 10 patrol pick-up, two Yamaha motorcycles, 20 three-wheeled motorcycles, 10 electric bikes and a Honda motorcycle.
The absence of a detailed plan also allegedly failed to show if the traffic enforcers are being deployed in the areas in needed of traffic management.
MMDA: THE TRAFFIC ENVIRONMENT IS VERY FLUID
MMDA Chairman Emerson Carlos admitted not having a detailed plan due to a "very fluid traffic environment" in Metro Manila. He added the plans for 2011 may not be applicable for 2016.
"Wala talagang detailed plan because 'yung traffic environment natin is continually evolving. So that kung mag-start ka ng detailed plan let's say later on in 2011, ibang-iba na ang environment by 2016, because the number of vehicles pa lang is tremendously changing because increase ng vehicles," Carlos said.
"Very fluid, that's the reason na sinubmit namin sa COA and it was accepted sa exit interview."
He also said the upgrade of the traffic signalization system from analog to digital is now 68%. Carlos clarified only 18.5% was completed by December 2015 because the contract for the project was only awarded at the last quarter of the 2015.
The phase 3 of the signaling system upgrade is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.
The project is expected to better manage the traffic by synchronizing all traffic signals on EDSA.
"That is understandable because ang phase 3 ng traffic signalization system natin was awarded last quarter na ng 2015. That is why 18.5% pa lang ang nagawa. By today, naka-68% na ang phase 3 na 'yun. Talagang ganun lang ang maaccomplish fahil nun lang nagsimula. It's actually a year-long project," Carlos stated.
"Ang upgrade ng ating traffic signalization system is to have all traffic signals controlled from the traffic center from dito sa metro base. It would synchronize ang mga traffic signal so that kung mag-green ka dito sa simula ng yong travel, posible na green ka all the way."
The MMDA also added the vehicles purchased were part of their "innovations" in addressing the traffic problems such as the purchase of ferry boats to provide an alternative mode of transportation.