WASHINGTON, DC — Among the notable views and experiences for people coming from less developed countries like the Philippines who go to rich countries like the USA are their long, wide, extensive, good roads. Even their rural village or barangay level roads are smooth.
I saw these when I visited some suburbs of DC like Alexandria, Virginia, and the rural village of Forest, Virginia. Lots are big, houses are detached, flat or hilly terrain, the rural roads are smooth.
And except for few big cities, spaces are too wide — interstate roads, city roads, housing lots, school and university lots, malls and groceries with wide parking lots, etc. So many cars and trucks traveling at high speed so they can cover long distances in a short period of time.
The Philippines has generally low infrastructure level and quality compared with our neighbors. Take these numbers for instance from the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 2018 (See table).
Among the possible reforms for the Philippines are the following:
One, encourage more toll roads nationwide, via integrated Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and not hybrid PPP scheme. Toll roads prohibit tricycles, small motorcycles, tractors, and bicycles, and make travel by car, bus, and truck safer and faster.
Two, demonopolize routes. Allow jeepneys and aircon vans to go in areas that are currently tricycle route monopolies; allow buses and aircon vans to go in areas that are currently jeepney route monopolies. Passengers will choose what’s convenient for them and very likely, tricycles and jeepneys will die a natural death in many areas. So these slow and low-passenger vehicles will be out of the roads and mobility will be faster.
Three, business and civil society organizations must make a scorecard of road quality by province, by city and major municipalities. Bad roads, narrow roads due to many unauthorized parking by vehicles will be reported and might shame and wake up lazy governors and mayors.
Four, expand and modernize rail network in major islands like Luzon, Mindanao, and Panay, again via integrated PPP schemes as much as possible.
More mobility means more freedom, more liberty. A developed, modern road and rail system will greatly enhance the mobility of people, their products and services, which reduces the cost of goods and services. Which expands food and other necessities of the population.
Bienvenido S. Oplas, Jr. is the president of Minimal Government Thinkers.