Manila's Traffic - the Gate to HellPhilippines: Why rapid change in a city can be a nightmare
Metro Manila, the metropolitan region around the Philippine’s capital, is in a constant state of change. With a new urban planning policy, officials are attempting to come to terms with the construction boom in the informal settlements around the periphery. Traffic is a particular problem for the region’s over 11 million inhabitants. Read More
Metro Manila - a traffic nightmare
It is three p.m. in Manila on a sizzling Monday afternoon. The thermometer reads 30 degrees Celsius and traffic is at a standstill. I have been driving for almost three hours already from the airport back to my house in Quezon City, a drive that would take just 20 minutes if only the roads were empty. But these days, Metro Manila's roads are never empty anymore. Traffic is a mess of epic proportions, a nightmare, an apocalypse of sorts.
The route from the airport to Roxas Boulevard, for instance, is gridlocked almost the whole day and past office hours because of ongoing construction and road works. The road is lined on one side by buildings surrounded by giant cranes and construction workers in their bright orange workers' vests and hard hats who are busy building giant casinos and hotels – all part of a glittering 100-hectare Las Vegas-style casino complex targeted for completion in four years.
Indeed, Metro Manila, a region of 16 cities and home to 11 million of the Philippines' population of 94 million, is changing and changing fast. Traffic is one such indicator of rapid change, caused as much by daily road and construction work brought about by the cheap condominium boom as it is by the rise in business process outsourcing (BPO) offices.
Today you have to leave more than two hours ahead of time because of heavy traffic.
Blue-collar workers now have to leave their homes twice as early as they used to. Getting to a meeting in Makati, the country’s financial business district, for instance, from Quezon City was just an hour’s drive five years ago. Today you have to leave more than two hours ahead of time because of heavy traffic. Taking any of the public buses that ply EDSA, Metro Manila’s main thoroughfare that stretches 23 kilometres through six cities, is an even worse option because the drivers, paid a per passenger commission, won’t move until their buses are filled to the brim.
The elevated commuter train that runs along the same route takes only thirty minutes, but passengers have to line up for an hour to get inside and two hours during the morning and evening rush hours.
Once in a while, when I am too tired to brave the monstrous traffic jam and would rather sit or stand on the crowded train than to do the driving myself, I become part of the chaos. Or when gasoline prices are skyrocketing, as they do when the oil-producing Middle Eastern region is in a crisis.
The chaos actually begins long before the ride starts, as I experienced one damp October morning at the foot of the train’s Quezon Avenue station, the one nearest my house. Down at the pools of mud and water from the previous night's rain is where the line to the morning's ride started. The long, snaking line of commuters was mostly office workers, some in high-heeled shoes or crisp uniforms. Many are used to this kind of hell, but it’s still just as inconvenient as it is on any given day.
The crowd is always as constant as the Red Sea's waves.
Metro Manila is changing and it is changing fast
Welcome to Metro Manila, the Philippines' national capital region. Welcome to mayhem. The City of Manila itself, the capital of the Philippines, is experiencing rapid change. Even the once treasured national landmark, the monument of the late Dr. Jose Rizal, our national hero who was shot by a firing squad from the Spanish Army, is now surrounded on one side by high-rise condominiums.
There can be no doubt: a housing boom is going on in the Philippines. With record low interest rates and irresistible down payment requirements, many Filipinos are finding themselves able to afford their own homes.
A housing boom is going on in the Philippines.
Developers say they are helping Filipinos become homeowners. Januario Jesus "J.J." Gregorio Atencio III, co-owner of local property developer 8990 Holdings, said having one’s own home is empowering.
“It’s more than a business. We do it to change lives,” he said in an interview. According to real estate consultancy Colliers International Philippines, more than 4,400 high-rise residential units were completed in 2013 in the five major central business districts in Metro Manila that Colliers monitor. It expects 19,700 units to be turned over in the next three years, the company said in its outlook on the Philippine market released in February 2014.