Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cops inspecting malls, bus terminals as Christmas exodus peaks

As the yearly Christmas exodus started to peak on Thursday, the police in Metro Manila inspected bus terminals and malls to ensure the safety of travelers and shoppers.

Metro Manila police chief Director Nicanor Bartolome, who led the inspections, said he saw for himself the difficult conditions passengers had to cope with.

"Marami na, kagagaling ko sa Araneta Bus Terminal. Talagang punong puno na, hirap na hirap," he said in an interview on dzBB radio.

(I just inspected the Araneta Bus Terminal. There are so many passengers aboard buses, they are having a hard time getting a ride.)

He said many passengers crowded the buses heading for the provinces, bringing with them large bags containing their personal belongings.

Bartolome said he has ordered his men to watch for explosives, firecrackers, and bladed weapons at the bus terminals.

He also ordered police visibility in Metro Manila during the holidays.

On the other hand, he said his office will not deploy bus marshals - plainclothes personnel who watch out for robbers - for the provincial trips, saying they are concentrating their efforts on bus terminal inspections instead.

EDSA traffic snarled

Earlier Thursday, the already slow holiday traffic in key areas of Metro Manila worsened as motorists and commuters headed to their home provinces for the Christmas holiday.

Radio dzBB reported some portions of Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) in Quezon and Pasay Cities were turned into virtual parking lots as early as 5:00 a.m. due to improperly parked buses and taxis near the bus terminals.

Passengers crowded bus terminals along portions of EDSA in Quezon and Pasay cities hoping to get a ride for destinations in Northern and Central Luzon, as well as Bicol, Visayas and Mindanao.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino said he has deployed added traffic aides to the affected areas.

"Ito siguro ang dudulot din ng volume ng pasahero. Ang ating ginawa, noong isang araw may karagdagang tauhan," Tolentino said in an interview on dzBB radio.

(It is the sheer volume of passengers. What we have done is to deploy added traffic enforcers.)

He also said the MMDA already gave number coding exemptions to some bus companies plying the south and north routes.

"Baka di nakayanan dahil sa dami ng kababayan. Pilitin natin ayusin ang lugar hanggang bukas, ang last day ng pag-uwi sa probinsya," he said.

(The sheer number of passengers may be too much for us. We will try to address.)

No vacation leaves

Tolentino said he has canceled traffic enforcers' vacation leaves for Christmas and New Year to cope with the exodus and return of people from the provinces.

"Pati sa araw ng Pasko at Bagong Taon walang leave ang ating enforcer. Normal working day ang Christmas at New Year sa amin,"
 he said.

(On Christmas and New Year there will be no leave for our traffic enforcers. Christmas and New Year will be normal working days for them.)

On the other hand, Tolentino said the MMDA will keep a close watch on tow trucks deployed to assist vehicles stalled along major thoroughfares.

He said they will particularly keep an eye on complaints against tow truck firms that extort money from motorists.

Toll operators

Radio dzBB reported the Manila North Tollways Corp. added personnel at the North Luzon Expressway and Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway to cope with the exodus.

Ambulant tellers were deployed at toll plazas while added patrol vehicles were deployed at NLEX, the report said. – VVP, GMANews.TV

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