Because traffic has a correlation to the economic life of the nation, it is important to have a closer look at the implication of traffic to the economy.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) early this year released data showing that the country loses P3.5 billion a day in economic opportunities or P1.095 trillion in one year due to the Metro’s traffic gridlock, which turns investors away. This includes wasted oil and gasoline, lost work hours, lost business opportunities due to delays and missed costly deadlines.
As of March 2019, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) reported that the number of motor vehicles—cars and motorcycles combined—registered in its database has reached 26.33 million.
The number of registered motorcycles already reached 18.8 million, or a whopping 71 percent of the total motor vehicles in the country. Of the total figure, 15 percent of the registered MVs are utility vehicles, 8 percent are cars, 3 percent are sport-utility vehicles, 3 percent are trucks, and the rest are categorized as “others.”
The motorcycle industry has consistently expanded in recent years, including smuggled ones, as shown by the unusual average yearly sales growth of around 20 percent.
Motorcycles without sidecars got the biggest slice of the two-wheeler units at 9,836,623 and motorcycles with sidecars totaled 1,312,053. The LTO released this figure during its first consultative meeting for the Republic Act (RA) 11235 or the Motor Crime Prevention Act.
The number of motorcycles with delinquent registration has ballooned to 12.28 million as shown by the LTO records based on engine size: from 100cc to 200cc engines, a total of 10,359,005 motorcycles have expired LTO registration or 86.2 percent of the total figure; below 100cc engines: 1,625,759 motorcycles or 13.5 percent; and above 200cc engines: 31,537 motorcycles or 0.3 percent.
The LTO said a big bulk of these delinquent registrations was obviously a product of procrastination on the part of the motorcycle owners who sold or gave away their bikes, but ignored or delayed the process of ownership transfer.
Some even adopted a “wait and see” attitude, holding on to their LTO documents while the debates on the doble plaka law continued.
Under RA 11235, it is the responsibility of the motorcycle owner to register his bike with the LTO within five days from the date of acquisition. The owner must also report the sale or disposition of his motorcycle to the LTO.
Violators face the penalty of imprisonment ranging from four months to four years to six months to six years as defined under the Revised Penal Code (RPC). Or, the violator shall be made to pay a fine of P20,000 up to P50,000—or both fine and jail term.
In the event that the motorcycle is not registered with the LTO and was used in the commission of a crime, the owner faces maximum punishment under the RPC or special penal laws. This would result in bigger penalties and longer jail terms.
This means the new owner needs to re-register his unit with the LTO before he can avail of the new license plates and to avoid the hefty penalties and jail time.
Currently, the penalty for driving without a valid or with an expired LTO registration is at P10,000. No imprisonment, period. As the figures were shown on a wide screen, the riders were dumbfounded.
On the issue of education, how many of our drivers understand the meaning of broken lines, solid lines, double solid line, local and international traffic signs?
“Roughly one-third of the drivers do not understand all of the above,” said a police traffic law enforcer and an agent of the LTO.
“This is so because these drivers do not go through the normal process of taking the written exam and the actual driving test required by law,” they said, adding that what these drivers do is buy their licenses from fixers who are in contact with unscrupulous LTO officers.
Related to the above is the issue of lack of enforcement not only of the country’s traffic rules and regulations but also the inability of authorities to strictly implement road safety, road courtesy, wayward pedestrians, undisciplined cyclists and motorcycle drivers.
Equally important to look into is engineering: Metro Manila, for instance, has approximately a road network of 5,000 kilometers, minus 1,000 of roads under repair, flooded, occupied and blocked by squatters, therefore, impassable.
Edsa remains the most congested road in the National Capital Region with vehicles of various sizes passing though this highway account for 13.6 percent of the average daily traffic of 2.7 million vehicles, with cars comprising two-thirds of the volume of traffic in Edsa.
Our policy-makers should look into why there’s a continuing importation of second-hand motor engines of various sizes, second-hand vehicles and the non-enforcement of the 15-year phase-out period for old and dilapidated vehicles, trucks and trailers.
Unfortunately, the emergency power meant to solve the traffic jam in the metropolis is itself stuck in the dilatory traffic jam in Congress.
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