“Transport” is a universal right that must be enjoyed by all citizens, regardless of location or economic status. The right to move from one place to another by means of a vehicle, aircraft, or ship must not be impeded in any way, such as the lack of infrastructure or entanglements of the bureaucracy. Sad to say, however, this was not the case as recent events made us realize that we are in a transport crisis.
A few weeks ago, holiday traffic kept motorists on the road for a longer period. Add light rains and rush hour to the start of a long weekend, roads “transformed” into huge open-air parking lots. Netizens complained about going home at dawn after lining up for hours to board a packed MRT carriage or waiting so long for a budget-breaking ride booked via an app.
The sky was not spared in this transport mess as the start of the year became a rude welcome to 56,000 passengers affected by the cancellation of 288 flights. There are ongoing probes, but each day only reveals more issues such as a defective X-ray machine, insufficient personnel, malfunctioning equipment, etc.
It was a good move for the President to visit the airport and apologize to those who were greatly inconvenienced by what the international press dubbed as “absolute nightmare.” But instead of accountability, there were finger-pointing moves going around. It was not only the passengers affected, but the entire Filipino nation, who deserve better service at the airports. Twelve days after the unprecedented airport incident, updates and solutions are needed, not accusations and blame games.
Amidst the transport crisis, we understand that solutions do not come overnight. Transport is inextricably linked with infrastructure as roads, airports, shipping ports are needed to make these machines move. And infrastructure is not something that can also be done in an instant, as it takes generations (and different political administrations) to build and finish a certain project.
To the credit of this administration, the President has repeatedly highlighted the importance of infrastructure with regards to transport. In fact, there is the “Build, Better, More” program, which will fund more airports, farm-to-market roads, bridges and highways.
The President vowed to keep on upgrading the country’s transport system to relieve commuters and motorists of their daily ordeal due to traffic congestion. This he made during the launch of the Metro Manila Subway Project’s tunnel boring machine at its depot in Valenzuela last Jan. 9, 2023.
“We will continue to invest and improve our transportation system as well as pursue more projects in the years to come so that Filipinos can gain greater access to places of work, commerce, recreation, and other vital areas,” the President said. “Having an effective and efficient transportation system will have multiplier effects on employment, the economy, our society, it will bring comfort, convenience, an easier life for all.”
Officials say this project will monumentally transform the way people in Metro Manila will move from one place to another. To put in context, the ₱488 billion subway will stretch about 33 kilometers across eight cities, from Valenzuela to Parañaque with a “spur line” to NAIA Terminal 3. It is projected to serve over half a million passengers daily.
With hope and optimism on the horizon, may this subway project be one of the tangible solutions to this long-drawn transport crisis. If it is, then there is, literally and figuratively, a light at the end of the tunnel.