Philippine cities could become ‘uninhabitable’ due to traffic congestion

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Leaders of foreign chambers of commerce in the Philippines warn that the country’s major cities could become “uninhabitable” due to traffic congestion.

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John Forbes of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines said: “With the rate that new vehicles are being put on the roads, Manila, Cebu, Davao, Baguio and cities elsewhere are becoming uninhabitable.”

Bo Lundqvist president of the Nordic Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines also expressed concerns, saying: “Serious improvement to the worsening traffic situation needs to be achieved. Core infrastructure spending needs to happen.

“Core infrastructure is still a challenge to growth, and little in concrete steps has been done to improve the situation. Such improvements are necessary stepping stones towards the growth targets of the economy for future years.”

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The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) in the Philippines issued a statement last December urging Congress to speed up the passage of the proposed Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act.

The group also asked President Duterte to certify the measure as ‘urgent’ to speed up its passage.

The act seeks to reduce obstacles to the implementation of transportation projects, such as barring lower courts from issuing temporary restraining orders, for the duration of the emergency powers.

President Duterte has previously said that Manila would be a “dead city in 25 years” due to the worsening traffic situation. He has also called for the development of other urban hubs outside the capital.

In airing its concerns, the JFC cited a study commissioned by Uber showing that Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila have the worst traffic congestion in Asia.

An Uber-commissioned survey released in November showed that people in the capital spend 66 minutes per day stuck in traffic. The figure for Bangkok is 72 minutes and 68 in Jakarta.

Last year, vehicle sales in the country reached a record level of 476,073, according to data from the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines and the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors.

Vehicle sales, however, are expected to slow this year due to the implementation of a tax reform package, which includes higher automobile excise taxes.

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