Chaos, Gridlock a Daily Ordeal for Manila’s Long-suffering Commuters
Mar 13, 2019CultureComments Off on Chaos, Gridlock a Daily Ordeal for Manila’s Long-suffering Commuters
It's 3.30 a.m. in the Philippines and much of San Jose Del Monte is fast asleep.
Flashlight in hand, street sweeper Alejandro Galasao, 58, navigates a labyrinth of alleys to a main road to catch a bus to the capital Manila 30 km (18.6 miles) away.
He has to wake up in the middle of the night for a job that doesn't start until 6 a.m.
Traffic is so bad in Manila that if he leaves any later, there's no way he will clock in on time.
"If I go to work at rush hour, it would take me three hours," Galasao told Reuters. "This is the only job I know. Even if I find something else, I doubt I would earn any better."
Metro Manila, a sprawl of 16 cities fused together by outdated infrastructure, is creaking under the weight of millions of vehicles, owing largely to economic growth of more than six percent a year since 2012.
Urban rail coverage is limited, trains are prone to breakdowns and queues spill onto streets where exhaust fumes are intoxicating.
Quality of life is poor for many urban Filipinos, who spend a chunk of their day commuting.
Janice Sarad works at a bank head office and leaves home four hours before work starts in Bonifacio Global City, a Manila business hub.
On a typical day, Sarad, 22, takes a train, a bus and two passenger jeeps to get to work.
"In the morning, it's even more difficult to commute because the pressure not to be late is there. You really have to fight your way in," she said.
A 2015 survey by GPS-based navigation app Waze found that Manila had the world's worst traffic congestion, partly due to a tripling of annual car sales from a decade ago.
Oliver Emocling, 23, rides the train, but queues are so long that he arrives late often, and has been docked wages as punishment.
"When I get home, it's already 10 p.m.," said Emocling, who works at a magazine. "I could be using that time to sleep more, rest more. Instead, my time gets wasted."
The daily loss of business in Manila due to traffic woes has risen to 3.5 billion pesos ($67.2 million) in 2017 from 2.4 billion pesos ($46.1 million) in 2012, according to the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
President Rodrigo Duterte has said that fixing Manila's traffic wasn't easy, adding that it was the only campaign promise he had failed to deliver.
He recently approved a law that encourages companies to support more employees to work from home.
The government is making some headway on an $180 billion program to modernize roads, railways and airports, including a subway system which was set to begin construction at the end of February.
However, the building works are exacerbating snarl-ups.
Ferdinand Tan, a 53-year-old wealth coach, lets his staff work from home and has modified his van to cope with traffic, turning it into a mobile office with a power supply, computer and even a foot massager.
"No one can really solve the traffic. So instead of complaining about it, I try to maximize (the time)," he said. "I use unproductive time to be productive."
Comments Off on Taipei-Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau is promoting mountain tourism at the 4-day Taipei International Travel Fair that began Friday.
The bureau is focusing on five north-south mountain ranges — the Central Mountain, Xueshan, Yushan, Alishan and the Coastal Mountain ranges — in its pavilion at the fair, said bureau Deputy Director-General Chang Shi-chung (???).
Chang said there will be various exhibitions and forums on the mountains of Taiwan, as well as its unique cultural features such as historic trails and aboriginal lifestyles.
Taiwan is preparing to market 2020 as the Year of Mountain Tourism, after its efforts to position the country as an important international mountaineering destination in July, when the government allowed public access to the island’s national parks.
Previously, people who wanted to visit restricted “ecological protected areas” in Taiwan’s national parks had to apply for permits from both the National Police Agency and the Construction and Planning Agency.
Now, however, the Construction and Planning Agency has launched a new mountain permit application portal that requires mountain visitors to apply for only one permit and provides fast-track processing to expedite applications, the bureau said.
Much of Taiwan is covered by mountains, and it has 268 mountains of over 3,000 meters, according to the Tourism Bureau website.
That environment has made hiking and mountain climbing one of the favorite pastimes of Taiwan residents.
The number of permits issued to Taiwanese citizens and foreign nationals for access to trails in Yushan, Taroko and Shei Pa national parks has risen from 153,736 in 2016 to 187,053 in 2017 and 201,526 in 2018, according to Construction and Planning Agency figures.
In 2018, foreign nationals accounted for 7.24 percent of the permits issued.
There will be around 1,700 booths from 60 countries at the fair, to be held Nov. 8-11 at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center.
The fair, the largest of its kind in Taiwan, will feature South Korean and Japanese tourism operators amid growing local interest in travel to those countries.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel