Our last article focused on the glory days of Manila, its present state, and how and why there is no urban planning that took effect in the past.
The Metro Manila traffic is not just a daily annoyance that its residents have to live by.
DOTC said that according to a study, a total of $3.27B a year is costing Metro Manila in productivity due to wasted man hours.
High volume of vehicles on the road on the same time is causing the traffic in Metro Manila.
Aside from many vehicles, traffic congestion is caused by undisciplined and reckless drivers, especially the jeepney and bus drivers.
Bus and jeepney drivers cause traffic for blocking the roads and picking up and dropping off passengers anywhere in the road. They also stop for a long time in loading and unloading bays and thus, creating a long line of vehicles. Jeepney drivers are also creating illegal terminals on the side of the road.
The problem is that LTFRB issues too much franchises that it adds up to the number of public utility vehicles plying in Metro Manila. Another problem is that there are too many fixers in the LTFRB who secure franchises with the cooperation of their accomplices inside the regulatory agency.
Uncollected, untreated, and pest-infested garbage has become the plague of Metro Manila. Garbage are seen in every street, canals, sidewalks, and worst, in Manila Bay and Pasig River.
The huge amounts of solid waste produced by the city each day often clogs the poor drainage pipeline and causes eventual flooding.
Foreign investors and visitors, leaders of advanced countries and even financial analysts often equate the state of health and stability of a nation with the cleanliness of its streets and the orderly collection of its domestic and industrial wastes.
Foreign tourists, especially Europeans and Americans love to walk the city to explore and unfortunately in Metro Manila, vehicles are given the most priority thus making pedestrians walkways, structures, and sidewalks inaccessible.
This holds true to many persons with disabilities. They are having difficulty in using the pedestrian walkways and structures due to being non-PWD friendly. They are pushing the government to implement the Batas Pambansa 344 or the Accessibility Law but then again, it has fallen into deaf ears. For them, the number one violator of this law is simply the government.
This is one big issue that the city needs to address if it is to boost its local tourist industry in the years to come. Remember, a walkable city is a healthy city.
Slum dwellers or squatter settlements have been a perennial problem of Metro Manila. Many squatter settlements are located along waterways, creeks, railway tracks, and road reservations.
During the past floods and typhoons, a large percentage of the urban poor areas became vulnerable because they were located in low-lying or swampy wetlands, and lacked access to services.
Slum areas near waterways also cause water pollution because they throw their wastes in the water thus causing flooding. Notable slum areas near waterways are in Pasig River and in Navotas.
In an article at Manila Bulletin, after the Habagat floods, the President augmented the P50 billion that he allocated in 2011 for the relocation of over a hundred thousand informal settlers from danger zones. The danger areas include waterside areas and places prone to disasters and hazards. But, as the study pointed out, a number of obstacles prevented smooth implementation.
One is the unwillingness of the LGUs in Metro Manila to cooperate with the DILG and the National Housing Authority. The belief among many is that the LGUs are unwilling to share information on available land within each municipality as they are saving the land for developers of commercial property.
Land use in Metro Manila has been largely shaped by the activities of the private sector. Due to speculation, land prices have risen by 100-200%, thereby reducing access to affordable housing in the city.
Everyday, we hear in the news about crimes that happen in the city, a major safety and security problem of Metro Manila. Criminals victimize innocent civilians and even, foreigners.
Not only adults are criminals. Youths are now becoming more and more involved in criminal activities because they always escape imprisonment due to the juvenile law the prevents 18 year olds and below to be put behind bars.
Before we can build reputable tourist destinations, become a livable city, improved our international image, urban problems must be addressed first before anything else.
The international image of Metro Manila is deterrent to tourism if these problems continue to exist. Government should do a new urban planning. This time, they should focus on proper urban planning and have a master plan like the Burnham Plan.
Architect Paulo Alcazaren, reported in his Philippine Star article, “The ghost of master plans past,” that Metro Manila had 14 master plans on urban planning starting in 1870 and none of them was ever implemented!
Among the reasons for its non-implementation were government corruption, politics, and greed of real estate speculators.
The cities in the metropolis such as Quezon City, Makati, Taguig, Pasig are already in developing stages with their tall gleaming condominiums and office buildings. They have their own central business districts, except for Quezon City which is now the process of creating the QCCBD located in North Triangle.
Unfortunately, the nation’s capital, Manila, is far from its neighbors when it comes to urban development. When it comes to buildings, there’s an old City Ordinance that limits the height of buildings in Manila to nine storeys. Because of this, developers fear they will lose money.
This problem will now be solved as the LGU of Manila will now allow developers to follow the national building code. This is a part of their plan to start the urban renewal to bring back the glory days of Manila.
Because of this, several condominiums will now be constructed in Manila, especially in Malate.
Downtown Manila, especially Rizal Avenue and Escolta, the former financial district of the Philippines, will be refurbished. Land developers would be encouraged to build hotels and other tourist-oriented buildings on Roxas Boulevard with its magnificent view of the Manila Bay sunset.
The focus of the urban renewal is the waterfront in which the LGU plans to transform into a new financial center to be called, Manila Financial Center. This will have tall office buildings, hotels and restaurants and shops along the waterfront, including a 101-storey building, the highest in the country.
With all these planned developments, the Metropolitan Development Authority and the mayors of cities of Metro Manila is in line to make the metropolis a world-class, vibrant, safe and healthy metropolis by 2016 by implementing short and medium-term programs.
They believe that Metro Manila needs a re-development to make it a world-class economic hub like the metropolitan areas in Asia such as Seoul-Incheon-Gyeonggi in South Korea, Singapore, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.
In the Philippine Daily Inquirer article of Tessa R. Salazar, she reported that last year, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) gathered property experts, top developers and urban planning experts to discuss on how to make one of the Asia-Pacific region’s fastest-growing metropolitan areas livable and sustainable.
Dr. Sujata S. Govada, project director, ULI North Asia, and founder and managing director of Urban Design & Planning Consultants Ltd. (UDP Int’l), said: “For the first time, multiple stakeholders, including developers, government officials, professionals, the academe and civil society came together to discuss key issues and concerns of the Metro Manila urban core. Through this collaborative process, the development of the 10 Principles (ULI’s future report for sustainable development of Metro Manila’s urban core+) will not only guide future sustainable development and create a better understanding of the issues and the problems and how they can (be) addressed with a strategic vision.” She added that the future report would cover the urban core of Metro Manila, including Makati, Bonifacio Global City and surrounding neighborhoods.
The report will look at ways the Philippines’ political and economic center can be improved with a more sustainable approach to city development. It is currently being developed as part of a collaborative process, with different members of the real estate industry, and will incorporate information discussed during the course of the event.
“Sustainability goes beyond buildings and includes physical, social, environmental and economic aspects, and should focus on the people and long-term value for the city. This includes social cohesion, equity and community development as well,” Govada told Inquirer Property in a statement.
The salient talking points of the July 9 gathering included: transport and infrastructure integration; PPP (public-private partnership) collaboration and management; strong leadership and commitment; strategic vision, master plan and policy framework; city image and identity; comprehensive planning process and coordination; sustainability, social equity and disaster relief; public engagement and transparency; social cohesion, housing and community development; and public space, walkability and open space.
In an interview, real estate professional, Mr. Ramon Cuervo, emphasized the need for the urban renewal of Metro Manila to make it a world-class city, in line with the strong economic performance of the country.
Aside from making it a world-class city, urban renewal and development will offer business opportunities for real estate professionals.
Mr. Cuervo stated that the real estate professionals are committed to their part for the urban renewal of Metro Manila. “Going beyond the problems and difficulties that lie ahead, we need to organize the property owners that envisions the business opportunities in Metro Manila’s urban renewal,” he said.
“Our objective is to jumpstart economic activity and generates active development in building an idle and poorly utilized property into its highest and best use with widest distribution. We look forward that this endeavor will help us through the wisdom and expertise of urban planners, government, and real estate professionals,” he said.
As a means of business opportunity, urban renewal leads to the creation of better and higher values of the land which translates into better and higher taxes and revenues for government.
In the end, as land is the ultimate resource, its development into its highest and best use benefits everybody, the private owner, the government and even the businessmen and workers, as land renewal offers tremendous business opportunities for the construction business as well as for the professionals and workers in this vital area of economic activity.
With sources from: