MANILA — Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada is out to retake perennially chaotic roads in Metro Manila from illegal vendors and undisciplined motorists and pedestrians who have ruled over them for years, this time employing Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) and other armed personnel to restore order in the streets.

This week, Estrada operationalized a new traffic enforcement body to enforce “Discipline Zones” in key areas of Metro Manila where traffic mayhem is the order of the day.

“The many years of neglect by previous City administrations on traffic and order concerns have brought about this major problem that had thus bred a seeming anarchy in some areas in Manila,” said Ver Eustaquio, Director of the Manila Barangay Bureau (MBB) and Operations Head of the Task Force Organized Vending (TFOV) which performs key role in the expanded traffic management body.

This body will include the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau (MTPB), the Manila Police District (MPD), the MBB and the SWAT.

He said the main forces of the soon-to-be-formed Discipline Zones Team will be the current 450-man MTPB, the TFOV, MBB and more than 2,000 barangay volunteers who will be adequately trained for the task. These main forces, he said, will closely coordinate with the MPD and the SWAT in their implementation of Mayor Estrada’s directive.

“Masyado nang naging malala ang kawalan ng dispilina sa mga lugar na ito dahil sa maraming taon na pagpapabaya ng mga nagdaang administrasyon ng lungsod. Pero ito ay sosolusyunan ni Mayor Erap sa pamamagitan ng proyektong ito,” Eustaquio added.

Eustaquio said Mayor Estrada wants the new traffic enforcement team to initially start restoring order along the stretch of Recto Avenue going to Divisoria, which is also known as the “Pambansang Pelengke.”

He said the project will primarily ensure smooth flow of traffic for motorists, pedestrians and products in the Divisoria area, one of their declared ten “hotspots” which are priority areas for the project’s implementation including: the Blumenttrit, Reina Regente, Soler, Abad Santos, Antonio Rivera, Juan Luna, Narra, Plaza Ruiz and Sta. Elena areas.

“Illegal vendors; unauthorized terminals of jeepneys, tricycles and pedicabs; mountains of garbage here and there; illegally-parked vehicles… these are the many road obstructions… and these are the main challenges for the Team to respond to and resolve. Practically all of these will be removed, but there will be windows of accommodation for those who are in legitimate business or livelihood and who are not obstructing foot and vehicular traffic,” he said.

Eustaquio said that during Christmas season – up to New Year’s Eve, all roads virtually lead to Divisoria,” but the area has also become notorious for its chaotic market environment and heavy foot and vehicular traffic, and that the frenzied scenario is not exclusive to the heart of the budget-friendly market but extends as well to its nearby road networks.

“Mayor Erap’s directive to us in the Discipline Zones team is to ensure in all the identified hotspots the smooth and efficient flow of traffic, cleanliness and orderliness, and the safety and security of pedestrians, commuters, motorists and the moving goods,” Eustaquio underscored.

He further said that the Team, by its mere visibility in the streets, will likewise serve as deterrent to crimes which are usually rampant in these areas especially during the holidays such as snatching, holdup’s and the like. PNA