SUBIC BAY FREEPORT - In preparation for the expected increase in traffic flow here starting the last quarter of the year, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) will be implementing new traffic policies in the free port.
In the recent "Traffic Safety Forum" organized by the newly-formed SBMA Traffic Safety Board (STSB), SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia said Subic will experience an increase in traffic volume with the arrival of cargo ships that will unload container vans.
The forum was attended by operators and drivers of cargo-hauling companies, truckers' groups, concerned units from the Bureau of Customs, and the Subic Bay International Terminal Corp. (SBITCI), which operates Subic's New Container Terminal 1 and 2.
NCT 2 has recently been designated Berth No. 8 of Port of Manila to help ease port congestion in the metropolis.
Garcia stressed in the forum that the Subic agency, along with stakeholders in the free port, should find ways to prevent traffic build-up along the main route of the trucks to prevent congestion, like what is happening in the Port of Batangas, also an extension port of Manila.
"I don't want the same thing to happen to Subic, so we need to be very efficient with the inflow and outflow of containers," Garcia said.
Garcia also stressed that Subic has to be prepared for more cargo traffic because of reports that it was not only the Port of Manila that is congested, but also some major Asian ports like Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Singapore. "This is going to have a ripple effect," he said.
Meanwhile, SBMA Traffic Safety Board chairman retired P/Gen. Orlando Maddela Jr. said that one of the major contributors to traffic congestion is road vehicular accidents.
Maddela said that based on SBMA statistics, road accidents in the Freeport usually occur along the Tipo Road and frequently involve cargo trucks with heavy loads. The accidents were usually attributed to human error and slippery road during the rainy season.
"The portion of Tipo Road after the tunnel, which is almost an all-down grade and all-curve road, is considered an accident-prone area," Maddela said.
Rex Ramos, head of the Traffic Management Safety and Security of Manila North Tollways Corp., noted that driver's error involving over-speeding and miscalculation are the common causes of accidents involving cargo trucks in the Tipo Road.
The other significant causes of accidents are overloading of cargos, truck mechanism or brake distribution failure, flaws in road design, unsafe road conditions, and drivers' non-familiarity with the terrain.
To help prevent accidents, the STSB recommended that all truck drivers who are newly-assigned to Subic should undergo a two-hour familiarization seminar that would cover traffic rules and regulations and road familiarization tour before allowing them to drive cargo trucks inside the Freeport.
It was also recommended that cargo trucks entering the Freeport should have operational maxi-brakes, and drivers will only operate under the mandatory maximum speed of 40 KPH.
Truck owners and drivers welcomed the suggestions, saying the measures will save not only lives and properties, but also precious time to exit from piers and avoid congesting the port.
A representative from REMCO Trucking Corp. said that one of their company vehicles was recentlyinvolved in a vehicular accident along Tipo Road. "After the accident, we enjoined our drivers to attend seminars on road safety and traffic rules," he said. (30)
SBMA Law Enforcement Dept. chief Orlando Maddela Jr., who chairs the SBMA Traffic Safety Board, signs a road safety manifesto enjoining motorists to support road safety efforts in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.