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Developers, mall owners offer traffic solutions

Who says the solution to the hellish traffic in Metro Manila lies with motorists, pedestrians, highway police and the MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Develoment Authority) alone? Certainly, even the property sector has a stake in this issue, for is it not true that a community is also defined by the interrelationship of public and private infrastructures?

Inquirer Property recently asked the following questions to the country’s most prominent property developers: 1) Is overdevelopment contributing to the traffic congestion, and why or why not? 2) What do you think property developers can do to help solve Metro Manila’s worsening traffic?

Here are their responses.

“Development without proper planning and observance to codes and city regulations may lead to problems in the future, and not just in the aspect of traffic but also with flooding and public safety. Whether or not Metro Manila is overdeveloped is a complex discussion in itself, because cities are still in dire need of efficient facilities, mass transport systems and infrastructure,” explained Terrie Fucanan Yu, Century Properties vice president.

Traffic impact study

She added: “One way to solve the traffic problem is to commission a traffic impact study and to consider its valuable findings into a development’s masterplan. Second, consider opening some private roads as additional access points for motorists. Third, encourage pedestrianization and provide ample pedestrian walkways into your plans. Fourth, provide ample parking slots for commercial and retail developments.”

Yu said that Century Properties has applied all of the above for its masterplanned communities, including Century City on Kalayaan Avenue in Makati.

SMDC executive vice president Jose Mari Banzon said the corporation’s residential projects are strategically located so that the need to travel is minimized.

“We locate within walking distance to malls and schools. Many of our projects (such as Light, Grass and Princeton) are also near transportation hubs to encourage residents to commute. If not within transport hubs, we often establish depots for buses, jeeps or tricycles as part of our residential complex. Our objective is to eliminate the need to travel or encourage use of public transport to minimize use of private vehicles,” said Banzon.

Harold Brian Geronimo, Megaworld’s head for public relations and communications, revealed to Inquirer Property that it was Megaworld that pioneered the township community in the country during the early 1990s. One of the reasons for its introduction was to minimize traffic.

Township concept

Geronimo said: “The township concept was first realized in Eastwood City, where all components are found in one community. The ‘live-work-play’ concept encourages walking, since condominium residents can go to work, shop and dine in just one area. We are aggressively expanding the concept in the provinces to generate a reverse migration. People in the provinces who migrated to Metro Manila will be encouraged to go back to where they came from, while new graduates from the provinces will no longer have to leave their towns.”

He cited as an example Megaworld’s latest project, the Iloilo central business district, which has the components of commercial retail and new business process outsource locators (that could generate up to 40,000 jobs for the BPO sector alone). He added that another job-generating industry would be the financial districts.

Geronimo said that a projected 250,000 direct and indirect jobs could be generated in Megaworld’s Iloilo township alone.

Urban sprawl

The Chamber of Real Еstatе and Builders’ Associations (Creba), an organization of real еstatе industry players, said in a statement sent to Inquirer Property that urban sprawl is one of the reasons for traffic congestion because land in the city centers are not optimized for vertical residential development, thus increasing vehicles on the streets to shuttle commuters.

The group seeks “a bill that will provide affordable homes to employees in urban areas, or near their places of work.”

It claimed that the bill, if it becomes a law, will help “lessen the daily suburban commute, traffic congestion, fuel consumption, vehicular pollution and urban sprawl, while optimizing land use, manpower productivity and business efficiency—all contributing to economic growth and environmental development.”

“The bill, which forms part of a five-point agenda that Creba approved in Iloilo last year to help address the country’s 5.5-million housing backlog, will be presented in its final form at their grand national convention in Bacolod City from Oct. 7 to 10,” said the Creba statement.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer | September 19, 2015


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