If you do not live in Manila you might be unaware of the MMDA traffic enforcement and the enforcement by other agencies under the umbrella of I-ACT (InterAgency Council for Traffic) that has been happening in Manila.
The InterAgency Council for Traffic known as I-ACT brings together MMDA, HPG, DOTr, LTFRB and LTO and makes their operations more efficient.
A British man that runs a Facebook page called Gadget Addict covers many operations carried out by MMDA and other enforcement agencies. His videos are very interesting to watch and show what a fantastic job they are doing. The comments are also very interesting to read and show the enforces have the backing of the majority of the public.
While they still have a long way to go there is no doubt that their traffic enforcement operations in Manila are starting to show benefits.
In the morning if you look at the motorcycle riders commuting into Manila you will see the majority now wear approved motorbike helmets, a year ago very few had helmets.
Lanes of the roads that were taken up by illegally parked vehicles, vendors and pedestrians are now being used as a road again. While there are still many roads that need clearing you really can see progress is being made when you drive round Manila.
Many side-walks (Pavements in English) are now clear and pedestrians no longer need to walk in the road. Side-walk clearing is a huge battle for I-ACT but it is a battle they are slowly winning.
Illegal Public Transport
The major operations they have been conducting daily are discovering many public transport vehicles are illegal. They have caught many unlicensed drivers, vehicles with expired or no franchises and/or registrations, and unroadworthy vehicles including Jeepneys, tricycles, buses, vans (minibuses) and taxis. In one operation 9 out of 10 Jeepneys they stopped were found to be unroadworthy.
While some might say the drivers and the owners are only trying to make a living, it is at the cost of putting the public in danger and leaving them uninsured. Is that a price worth paying so a driver can make a living?
People still commit traffic offences in Manila
Even in countries with very strict traffic enforcement you still get people that commit traffic violations, you will never stop it 100% but the more you reduce it the safer the roads become and the less congestion you get.
For to long the Philippines has turned a blind eye to traffic violations, so things are not going to change overnight, it is going to take a long time to educate people. The main thing is progress is being made and things are improving because of the traffic enforcement that is happening under I-ACT and their umbrella agencies MMDA, HPG, DOTr, LTFRB and LTO.
When will they enforce traffic law in the rest of the Philippines?
The problem seems to be each city or province have their own traffic enforces, some do a good job, most seem to do very little to enforce the law.
We can only guess that one of the main reasons they do not set up enforcement in the way MMDA has in Manila is the cost of employing staff, training the staff etc. Yes there would be a big initial outlay, but once operations got underway they would soon recoup the outlay and start making a huge amount of money for the city.
Traffic Enforcement can make cities money
Enforcement of traffic laws in other countries makes a huge amount of money, in other words there are huge profits for local government if traffic laws are enforced correctly.
Next time you are out look at the number of drivers/riders that are breaking the law, look at the number of motorbike riders with no helmet and/or wearing slippers (flip-flops in English) and then work out how much the fines from all of them be.
No helmet 1,500 peso fine per person
Dress code we believe is a 500 peso fine.
Add it up as you see them and you will quickly see what a huge amount of money this would make for the city.
I suspect it would be enough not only to cover the enforcement but also to make major improvements to the city, enough to build things like hospitals, sports facilities etc and clean up the cities.
The simple measure of enforcing the laws could improve life for everybody.
When people start obey the law how will they fund it?
Enforcing helmets, parking etc is just the starting point, there are so many traffic laws that people break all the time, overloading, undertaking, sitting in the wrong lane, cutting junctions when turning. It would take them years to educate all drivers to stop committing traffic violations and even then some still will. While the amount of profit they make might drop there would still be more than enough to keep funding it.
It is wrong for cities to make money from people in this way
If enforcement is done correctly and is monitored to stop corruption then there is nothing wrong with it.
No one forces you to break the law, it is everyone choice if they follow the rules or not, if they choose to not follow the rules they can expect a fine, if they follow the rules then they will get no fine.
As long as the money collected from fines is put to good use it is a win, win situation for everyone apart from the people who choose not to follow the rules.
People can’t afford the fines
A lot of people tell me they can’t enforce traffic laws or increase the fines in the Philippines because many people can’t afford the fines.
The simple answer is if they can’t afford a fine they should not break the law, then they won’t have to pay a fine.
Will strict enforcement improve the roads?
Strict enforcement of traffic laws would have many benefits. It would improve the flow of traffic and make the roads safer.
Over time the standard of driving would improve, people who have never passed a driving test, been banned, are underage, have no licence etc would become worried about getting caught so would not take the risk, owners would no longer allow people who should not drive to use their vehicle because of the fear of it getting impounded. I have no idea how many drivers are on the road that should not be, but from watching MMDA operations in Manila they seem to catch a lot and I suspect in the provinces there would be even more unlicensed drivers.
Drivers would learn the law
Drivers would take the time to learn the law, it seems at the moment many people do not know traffic laws or the rules of the road. Strict enforcement and the fear of fines would make people take the time to learn the laws and how to drive correctly.
Jeepney drivers would learn to stop on the side instead of the middle of the road to pick up passengers, tricycles would stop overloading meaning they would no longer crawl along slowly holding everything up, they would learn to drive on the right because driving in the middle when not overtaking would get them a fine. People would be able to walk on the side-walks instead of the road.
All this would mean traffic would flow better and there would be fewer accidents.
Traffic enforcement improving the Philippines
Strict traffic enforcement would improve the Philippines in many ways, it would make life better for everyone, it would help businesses, help the environment, reduce noise pollution and most important of all it would save lives.
We really hope that the rest of the country will take note of what I-ACT is doing in Manila and the same will happen in every city and province of the Philippines.
UPDATE: We can now confirm that I-ACT Traffic Enforcement and Street Clearing operations are going nationwide.