MMDA CHIEF UNDER FIRE FOR TRAFFIC SCHEME

Manila, Feb. 6, 2003 - MMDA chairman and Public Works Secretary Bayani Fernando may have stirred a hornet's nest when he lifted the Unified Volume Vehicular Reduction Program (UVVRP), popularly known as the color-coding traffic scheme.

The lifting of color-coding, on its third day today, will last until Feb. 21, at which time the effects will be evaluated on its possible permanent abolition.

Yesterday, Fernando was confronted by a threat from transport groups with protest actions, and a rebuke from the Department of Transportation and Communications for complaining about the DOTC's lack of cooperation in connection with his projects.

Fernando had assailed the DOTC for being ineffective in curbing the proliferation of "colorum" or out of line buses, which he said largely contributes to the clogging of Metro Manila's roadways.

Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza said he ordered a crackdown on all colorum vehicles as soon as he assumed office.

He said the campaign resulted in the apprehension of 1,326 "out of line" buses since September last year up to the first week of last month.

Colorum buses can still be seen at EDSA and Quezon avenue where they have been parked, he said.

Land Transportation Office chief, Roberto Lastimoso, said Fernando is "unaware of the all-out campaign that the LTO is conducting to resolve the traffic problem."

"In fact, we are conducting a campaign against all motorists who are causing these problems," he said.

Thompson Lantion, DOTC spokesman, said a strike force has been created to go after out of line buses on Edsa, Roxas Blvd./Coastal Mall, SLEX before EDSA, Ortigas Avenue, Cubao, East Avenue, Quezon Avenue, Congressional Avenue and Monumento.

The Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (Fejodap) and the Pinagkaisahang Samahan ng mga Drayber at Tsuper Nationwide (Piston) vowed to stage protest rallies if Fernando refuses to listen to their demand that color-coding be reimposed.

Zenaida Maranan, Fejodap president, said Fernando should have consulted the organizations about the consequences of his experimental project. They claim that letting loose all vehicles has hampered their livelihood.

Meanwhile, Fernando said traffic slowdown should not only be blamed on the number of vehicles on the road but also on pedestrian and commuters who are ignorant of traffic laws.

Fernando also blamed undisciplined pedestrians as major contributors to traffic congestion when they violate simple road rules such as crossing the street.

"Fifty percent of the problem is caused by pedestrians ... instead of walking along the sidewalks, they occupy the main roads. We have properly marked loading and unloading zones but people get on and off just about anywhere they choose," Fernando said. (By RHOEL FERNANDEZ and FRANCIS EARL CUETO, Malaya)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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