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Regional Updates (11/29/20)

Solon asks MMDA to reconsider closing U-turn slots along EDSA

A LAWMAKER has asked the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to reconsider the closure of all U-turn slots along EDSA, the capital region’s major thoroughfare. The MMDA plans to close all 13 slots by the end of the year or early 2021, with at least four implemented so far, to improve the flow of buses and ease traffic congestion. Quezon City Rep. Anthony Peter D. Crisologo, however, said the policy exacerbates the “already terrible” traffic congestion in Metro Manila. It also “had caused heavy build-up of U-Turning vehicles at Apolinario Samson and Quezon Avenue,” he said in his letter to MMDA Chairman Danilo D. Lim dated Nov. 9. The neophyte lawmaker said he already received complaints on  the closure of the U-turn slots in Trinoma, Quezon City Academy, Panorama, and Dario River. Mr. Crisologo also said that while he commends the MMDA’s objective to shorten the travel time of carousel buses along EDSA to 45-minutes, he believes that the plan to close the U-turn slots “will lead to no other result than exacerbate the traffic situation in the area.” He suggested that the MMDA and the Department of Transportation consider opening the intersection of Muñoz and let all vehicles “stop and go with no left turns even for buses plying EDSA.” He added that transportation authorities should also find time to hold talks with stakeholders to come up with “alternatives and solutions to the problem.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

Tourism dep’t vows continued support as Coron, Palawan reopen

THE Department of Tourism (DoT) has committed to continue supporting the local government in Coron, Palawan as the popular island destination reopens to domestic tourists on December 1. “We’re grateful for the decision of the local government officials and tourism stakeholders of Coron to finally welcome local visitors from all over the country. This will further help the tourism community of Palawan thrive during this time and bring back lost jobs to tourism workers,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a statement on Sunday. The DoT has so far certified 10 hotels and resorts in Coron, which will be regularly checked by the department’s regional office for consistent compliance with health and safety standards. Ms. Puyat also reminded tourists to respect and follow the town’s protocols. Local tourists from ages 15 to 65 years old are allowed to enter the island under a test-before-travel policy. For more information and to register before travel, go to www.corontourism.ph and app.philippines.travel. All tourists will undergo health assessment at the triage area of the Busuanga Airport.

Surallah-General Santos City bypass road 95% done

DPWH

THE P3.4 billion bypass road connecting Surallah town in South Cotabato to General Santos City is 95% done, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) reported on Sunday. The project connects the neighboring towns of Lake Sebu, Surallah, and T’boli to the commercial center, seaport, and airport in General Santos City, cutting travel time to an hour from the current two hours via the Banga-Polomolok highway. DPWH said ongoing construction work include the concreting of a 12.65-kilometer segment funded under 2019 and 2020 budgets, adding to the completed 25.41 kilometers since the project started in 2016. Funding for the remaining 6.69 kilometer road gap is included in the proposed 2021 budget while a 2,700 square-meter slope protection project is planned for implementation in 2022.

Indonesian officials prepare to reboot Davao-Manado connectivity

INDONESIAN officials are preparing to revive air and sea links between Manado and Davao City along with new platforms to strengthen connectivity among the business sector and other stakeholders. In a webinar earlier this month entitled Enhancing Manado-Davao City Connectivity for Sustainable Economic Interaction and Mutually Beneficial for the Two Countries, top Indonesian envoys recommended the creation of an online forum where representatives from both sides will meet regularly to discuss trade opportunities and other exchanges. “It will give more interactions of people from both countries in the business sector, academe, students, sports etc. that could boost trade, investment, tourism, and socio-cultural activities,” Davao City-based Indonesian Consul General Dicky Fabrian said in an email interview. Mr. Fabrian said they are also pushing for the revival of Davao–Manado flights of Garuda Indonesia, which was launched last year but halted in mid-March following the travel restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak. “We hope after the pandemic, airlines from both countries could continue to serve the route,” he said. He added that the North Sulawesi Business Chamber is meeting with their Davao City counterparts before the end of the year to map out goods for trade and the viability of cargo flights. A direct Bitung-Davao sea transport is also being considered, which will be faster than the defunct Bitung-Surabaya/Jakarta-Manila-Davao route. — Maya M. Padillo

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