The southbound portion of Roxas Boulevard will be closed to vehicular traffic starting 6 a.m., Jan. 15 to make way for the rehabilitation of the damaged Libertad Drainage Main Box Culvert. PHOTO BY METRO MANILA DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY

By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

TRUCK OPERATORS are expected to incur additional expenses as they would need to take a longer route during the closure of the southbound portion of Roxas Boulevard.

The Roxas Boulevard southbound lane will be closed to motorists for “two months” beginning Saturday (Jan. 15) to give way for the repair of the damaged box culvert, South Manila district engineer Mikunug D. Macud of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) told BusinessWorld in a phone interview.

The damaged box culvert, which was built in the 1970s, is directly in front of HK Sun Plaza in Pasay City heading to the EDSA-Roxas Boulevard flyover.

Mr. Macud said the northbound portion of the road will also be closed for another two months after repairs on the southbound portion are completed by March 15.

“The number one effect is additional expense on the part of the truckers because we will have to take longer routes, use much more fuel and pay bigger toll fees. Plus, the fact that if everyone uses those routes, there will be more traffic,” Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines President Maria B. Zapata said partly in Filipino in a phone interview.

“So this is really a struggle for the operators,” she added.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said 887 cargo trucks and 1,029 trailers traverse the Roxas Boulevard southbound lane every day.

As an alternate route, trucks and trailers from Bonifacio Drive going to Roxas Boulevard southbound can turn left to P. Burgos Avenue, then straight towards Finance Road and Ayala Boulevard, then right to San Marcelino Street, and then P. Quirino Avenue to South Luzon Expressway to their destination.

For free-flowing movement, Ms. Zapata suggested that all local government units (LGUs) in the National Capital Region (NCR) lift the ban on cargo trucks.

Sought for comment, MMDA Chairman Benjamin “Benhur” de Castro Abalos, Jr. said in a phone message: “There is no truck ban in the NCR except EDSA since last year.”

Ms. Zapata said traffic enforcers should be more considerate of truckers during the closure of Roxas Boulevard, noting the high penalties for offenses such as “obstruction.”

She said the truckers are hoping to discuss their requests with the Metro Manila Council, which is composed of mayors.

In a separate phone interview, Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport) Assistant Vice-President Flordeliza C. Leong said the closure of Roxas Boulevard is a disruption but it will improve infrastructure in the long term.

“When there’s disruption in the flow of goods and the movement of people, there are cost implications, there is also delay in terms of time, and all these will mean additional cost. Unfortunately, this is passed on to the consumers,” she noted, adding that there will also be “missed opportunities and decline in productivity because of the longer route.” 

Among the alternatives previously eyed was for the container vans to be carried on barges for transport from the Manila International Container Terminal to the Cavite Gateway Terminal in Tanza, Cavite.

Mr. Abalos said in a phone interview that the plan will still push through, “but not right away while the DPWH is still fixing the road network in the Tanza station.”

“There were some problems encountered, particularly the right of way, because the trailers are big… They’ll be stuck in traffic, so the suggestion is there should be one entrance and one exit, so while the DPWH is fixing it, we have no choice [but to push through with the closure], kasi unang-una, delikado at baka mag-collapse na ito (because it is dangerous and the box culvert may collapse),” he added.

The agency plans to implement a zipper lane or counterflow scheme for light vehicles “on a case-to-case basis.”