Thursday, September 10, 2015

Mere thunderstorm turns the Metro into twice of Dante's Inferno

Metro Manila shot in nearby Antipolo
Yes, Gabby, Metro Manila is quite susceptible even in a very normal thunderstorm. Everything turns nasty the minute a thunderstorm strikes---streets became impassable due to waist-deep flash floods and roads turn into virtual parking lots for thousands of cars even those using side streets connected with the Metro's main road artery--EDSA. Motorists turn into zombies, while hapless commuters wade the murky, disease-laden floodwaters like how street rats do.

A paralysis-causing thunderstorm, yes, that's what happened last Tuesday. Imagine what it would look like if a storm or a cyclone hits the Metro---if there is a hell fiercer than what Dante's Inferno is, that probably describes such a catastrophe.

Worse still is how this government tries to convince us, ordinary citizens, that such things are "normal" already and is an acceptable reality. MMDA chairman Tolentino says that the sheer volume of cars using our roads designed just to accommodate two cars at a time is to blame. EDSA, for one, he claims, is over capacitated already. After the word "overcapacity", Tolentino's logic begins, follows the word "acceptance."

" Accept overcapacity and accept no solution. There is no solution in sight. Accept the inevitability of the situation"---Tolentino logic. Simple, cruel, and

Really, I refuse to believe that. I refuse to believe that for decades, this government acted like a rich invalid, refusing to do what was necessary and leaving everything to the dogs. We fed him with trillions of pesos coming from our brow and sweat and tears, and from tons of money comes apathy and inaction.

I refuse to believe that this country of 101 million souls does not have a group of leaders with salient minds coming together just to solve a very simple and predictable incident such as what happened last Thursday.

Presidential Management head Jose Almendras had an epiphany when he said that the problem can be solved thru an inter-agency coordination work, which, to my mind, is really the solution.

One step at a time--what causes those heavy gridlock during thunderstorms? Those nasty flash floods. Why do flash floods happen? Defective and probably clogged drainage systems. What is the solution? Declog these things or best, replace them with bigger canals. Make a virtual underground network of canals right under Metro's streets that systematically channels rain waters collected in the streets onto several canals going to Manila's bay. Or better yet, direct these waters into a water collection basin that will systematically turn these into clean water.

This should not stop here---there should be a conscious effort thru a protocol for operators of those pumping stations to pump those flood waters out the minute heavy storm strikes. Nevermind if it causes additional monies--what is important is that those streets be cleared of waist-deep floods.

And who is responsible for this suggestion above? You guessed right---DPWH.

With one thing solved, we go to the next one---how to manage traffic flow during thunderstorms. The best solution is really deployment of additional traffic deputies in several recognized chokepoints. Meaning, additional manpower or personnel. The absence of traffic officers during heavy rains is not a phenomenon but an expected occurrence already.

What is the solution? Increase risk pay for these traffic cops during heavy downpours. Give them insurance coverage, and these traffic personnel will even perform their tasks more than what is expected of them.

Who is now responsible for this? Yes, the MMDA and the Office of the President, particularly the Presidential Management Staff.

So, really, I cannot accept one of my friend's remarks when he told me that that waist-deep flooding that happened along Pasay Road in Makati last Tuesday is already a given there, an expected result of a thunderstorm hitting the city right that very moment.

Had Makati's engineers ordered their men to operate their pumping stations earlier than usual, it would not have caused those flash floodings that resulted to traffic gridlock in several key roads and affected thousands of workers and ordinary folks like me.