Here in the Philippines, especially Metro-Manila, the traffic is as bad as any traffic in the Asian world or even the West. Drivers, especially jeepneys and taxis, refuse to obey the rules of the road. You will often see jeepneys create a "third lane" where they swerve into oncoming traffic to cheat their way to the stoplights. It’s here where they attempt to force themselves back into the proper lane. If they can’t get in immediately, they create a gridlock situation where oncoming cars are forced to sit there while blasting their horns at the renegade jeeps until the jeeps force themselves back into the proper lane. To make matters worse, traffic officials are often useless in these situations. There have been a few times when I’ve been in a company car and a jeepney pulled this stunt in front of us. The traffic cop did nothing. We pulled up and I rolled down my window to scold the officer. "What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you give that bastard a ticket?!?" I demanded. The officers meek reply was simply, "Ma’am, excuse, but he’s only trying to make a living." I froze at that moment, recoiling back to comprehend the sheer stupidity of that statement. That wasn’t the last time I heard it either. In addition, I’ve read newspaper editorial defenses of renegade busses, jeeps, and taxis all of the time, all along the lines of "they are only trying to make a living".
Well excuse me. This is where I turn beet red and want to scream out of the window, while simultaneously throwing a 25" TV onto the first jeep I see break the law below. The reactions here are so typical of what I’ve come to expect. The shortsighted point of view is astounding, but not surprising. Why am I the only one who can figure out the problem while these police and newspaper editorial idiots don’t have a clue?
I’m going to give a little lesson here. First, it takes 1-2 hours to go anywhere in the city during working hours. The reason is obviously the traffic. What’s worse is that gas prices have risen 50% in less than a year. Let’s analyze this: These renegade POV drivers cause 99% of the traffic. Now let’s imagine that sitting an extra hour in traffic each day due to their stupidity burns an average of 3 liters of extra gas while idling the engine. Finally multiply that by 2 million vehicles. What you have is 6 million liters of gas wasted on a daily basis. Multiply that further by 30 Pesos per liter, and what you have is 180 million pesos wasted everyday. That’s approximately $3,500,000 per day we throw away as a nation into the pockets of oil-producing nations. It’s no surprise that Dubai builds lavish resorts on a daily basis while all we build is roach motels. All in the name of "earning a living". That $1,000,000,000 wasted every year could probably repair all of the roads in Metro-Manila. Or it could possibly build 25 luxury high-rises that could be sold to foreigners to raise money and attract retirement pensions. But we just don’t have the discipline to stop breaking even the simplest of rules. "If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying." Sheesh.
March 22nd, 2005
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