EXPECT MORE APEC DRY RUNS -ALMENDRAS

MANILA — Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said on Thursday that more dry runs or simulations in the traffic flow are expected this coming weekend as Metro Manila gears up for fine tuning of the preparations for the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on Nov.17 to Nov. 20.

During a media briefing on the APEC traffic management preparations at the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) main office in Makati City, Almendras said that there would be dry runs on Saturday, Nov. 14, in various APEC venues.

“I need to announce that there will be more dry-runs happening. On Saturday, there is a major dry run from 7 a.m. onwards. There will be practice convoys that will be timing their movements from hotels to certain venues,” Almendras said after the meeting with MMDA officials, headed by Chairman Emerson Carlos, on the traffic contingency plans for APEC week.

He also said that there might be a total closure of portion of Edsa to simulate traffic when a VIP or a head of state’s convoys pass through the major thoroughfare.

“We may even simulate an Edsa closure on Sunday, meaning ipa-praktis din naming ‘yung pagsara , complete closure ng Edsa for a 30-minute window on Sunday po,” Almendras said.

Fielding questions from the media regarding the APEC dry runs, Almendras said it was vital to conduct such simulations because the government personnel securing the 21 heads of state were under time and movement challenge.

“Kailangan mag dry run kasi po may timing sequence na kailangan. Isipin nlyo na lang po ‘yung welcome (ceremonies), 21 po ‘yung dadating sa PICC, one after the other. The dream is, we can do a sequence na yung gap is 1 to 2 minutes. So it would take us 42 minutes to be able to welcome and accept each of the head of economies . Pag may isa po dyan na trapik o naipit, instead of 2 minutes, the gap becomes 5 minutes . It will take more than hour just for them to arrive at the venue. Not even to start the meeting, not even to start the proceedings. Just the arrival in the venue po…that is why we need to practice the movements. That is why the movements are so well-coordinated, may sequence and timing issues ‘yung pagdating na ‘yun,” he said.

Almendras said the previous APEC dry-runs along the designated routes had been “very good.”

“The time estimates allowed the teams to exactly determine how long it will take to move from one venue to another,” he said.

Almendras renewed his appeal to the public for understanding for some inconveniences during the APEC summit.

“I am appealing to all the motorists, all the people .We are hosting a very big event. So many important people that we need to make sure are going to be safe and can move around normally in a way they are able to move. So we really like to appeal, if you don’t really have to do anything absolutely urgent in these areas, then ‘wag na lang po…although some streets will be opened but pag may movement po magsasara,” Almendras said.

Earlier, MMDA said that the number-coding scheme will still be implemented during the four-day Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit next week.

This despite Malacañang declared Nov. 18 and 19 as special non-working holidays.

In justifying the move, Carlos said they needed to further decongest Metro Manila thoroughfares during the APEC meet.

He said the “number-coding” scheme would still take effect from Nov. 16 to 20 to decongest the metropolis.

“Iniiwasan po natin ‘yung pagdami ng sasakyan sa mga araw na ito (We try to prevent the congestion of vehicles during these days),”Carlos said.

Because of this, Carlos appealed to motorists to cooperate for the successful holding of APEC summit.

The MMDA, Carlos said, was expecting heavy traffic near bus terminals in the metropolis on Nov. 13 as people were expected to go to provinces ahead of the APEC summit.

Carlos said many people would start going to provinces as early as Nov. 13 (Friday) for a long vacation.

Malacañang declared Nov. 18 and 19 as special non-working holidays.

It also announced that there would be no work in government offices from Nov. 17 to 20 as the country hosts the APEC meet.

Exempted from the suspension are government agencies involved in basic services, security and safety, health and emergency preparedness and APEC-related activities.

There will also be no classes in all levels in Metro Manila from Nov. 17 to 20.

He said more people were expected to take the long APEC holidays as opportunity to go to the provinces.

Because of this, Carlos warned that traffic might be heavy in areas near bus terminals and airports.

He also said that there might be traffic jams in some malls in Metro Manila since Nov. 13 is also a payday. Christopher Lloyd T. Caliwan/PNA