Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada announced the
lifting of the Manila truck ban in a press conference at the Diamond Hotel on
Saturday. The seven-month old traffic ban was shelved to give way to the
efforts of the national government to put things in order and avert a repeat of
the massive traffic congestion and gridlock in the metro. Erap signed Executive
Order no.67 to lift the truck ban to avoid clashing with Malacanang.
In the past months, the local government
stood its ground regarding the truck ban. The ban wreaked havoc to many
businesses and jacked up the prices of commodities. The truck ban was also
attributed to the congestions at the ports that at one time had threatened a
Php 320 billion loss to the economy, closures of businesses, and loss of jobs.
After the horrendous traffic snarl on September
5, the national government stepped up and formed Task Force Pantalan to resolve
the problem and manage the traffic along the routes toward the Manila ports.
The task for is composed of Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA),
the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), and local governments in the
metropolis. Task Force Pantalan is led by Chief Supt. Allen Bantolo, deputy
director for operations of the NCRPO.
Erap denied any pressure coming from
Malacanang regarding his decision. He rescinded the order to avoid clashing
with the national government. He also said that the government of Manila and
its citizens were willing to sacrifice to give way to the national government. However,
Vice Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso expressed his unhappiness with the
decision, and claimed they were intimidated by the military personnel deployed
to resolve the traffic problem. Come Monday, expect heavy traffic in Manila
along the routes going to the ports as the trucks come lumbering back to hog
the Manila roads again.
Truck operators, drivers, and business
owners welcomed the new developments. Nevertheless, businessmen felt the
problem of port and traffic congestions should be resolve for the long term.
The lifting of the truck ban is but a temporary solution to address a looming
crisis with more cargoes coming in because of the coming holiday season.
Alfredo Yao, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
suggested that the authorities need to look further and fast track the expansion
of port operations to Subic and Batangas ports, as well as important
infrastructure projects to decongest the Manila ports and improve the traffic
situation. Henry Schumacher, vice president of the European Chamber of Commerce
of the Philippines lauded the decision to lift the ban, but he also added that
the franchising of trucks for hire under the agencies of the Department of
Transportation and Communication should be lifted.
In the end, every stakeholder agreed to
cooperate and work to improve the traffic situation in the metro. Port users
are slated to meet on Monday to develop a plan to decongest the ports under the
new condition without the truck ban.