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EDSActly!

IF traffic is lighter now on EDSA, I haven’t felt it. That’s because I avoid EDSA at all costs, for all the wrong and right reasons, and at all hours except the wee small ones, just as I avoid going to Makati in the daytime (the car population there is denser than anywhere else in Metro Manila).

Tim Orbos, undersecretary, officer in charge, and general manager of MMDA, doesn’t look like the happiest person on earth, and who can blame him? His job is the worst on the planet, with the highest frustration level and the loudest volume of complaints (mostly from idiots, know-it-alls, and jerks – my words, not his). As his predecessor, Emerson Carlos described the work, “it’s an hourly crisis” – how can you win every one of them, for a total of 24 every single blessed day?

Noemi Recio, MMDA’s statistician and memory keeper who’s been there for the last 31 (!) years, has been there, done that, she’s seen traffic building up in leaps and bounds, mostly during the last few years, yet she dares to envision an EDSA with free-flowing traffic: EDSA with 20 lanes! EDSA at twice its present width! Listening to statistics, figures, numbers, and looking at charts, graphs, pictures to explain why EDSA is not an epiphany of saints but a nightmare trapping sinners, saints, lawbreakers, and undisciplined drivers, I get a headache, but when Ms. Recio painted the picture of a 20-lane EDSA during her encounter with “Bulong Pulungan” at Sofitel, the cobwebs in my head lifted, I could see where the silvery spider was going.

If we’re willing to legislate emergency powers to build infrastructures on a promise that they’ll be completed in three years – 1.2 million new cars by then – why not an integrated plan to widen EDSA once and for all? That would be real emergency thinking, but then it sounds too simple to be doable. We love complicating stuff, it justifies the politics and the statistics, it dramatizes the problem and encourages debate even if we, we the people, have heard it all already, haven’t we? Everyone has a solution, or rather, THE solution; it’s all we can talk about, it gives us a sense of community, involvement, even passionate partisanship.

They can have their vague new bridges, overpasses, megaprojects. But keep that new EDSA in your daydreams, Ms. Recio, and I’ll join you. (Jullie Y. Daza)

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