the importance of synergy: an appeal for more coordination among public agencies

the intersection of malugay street and gil puyat avenue in the city of makati exemplifies the startling lack of coordination among the various agencies of the government that are involved in implementing civil works or building and maintaining public infrastructure. about three years ago, a 220-meter long median barrier was built in the middle of malugay, starting from gil puyat going towards the makati golf club. the main purpose of this barrier was to prevent vehicles from doing U-turns on malugay street in order to get into tordesillas street and salcedo village (malugay becomes tordesillas upon crossing gil puyat). the U-turning vehicles caused massive traffic bottlenecks particularly when they did it near the intersection.

the median barrier did its job, but since it was only 220 meters long, the vehicles just turned around at its end, and the traffic was not significantly eased. in fact, it may have gotten a little worse, since it reduced the space on either side of malugay. it became difficult to maneuver a car into the parking slots in front of the zone and star centrum, and this also often stalled several vehicles plying malugay.

the median barrier was also slightly stupid. its main purpose was to prevent vehicles from doing premature U-turns, but it also prevented pedestrians from crossing the street, since this was only possible at either of the ends: at makati golf club or near the intersection in gil puyat. they obviously were not thinking about several scenarios since when a car accidentally crashed into the barrier and opened a portion of the barrier to crossing pedestrians, it was "fixed" within 3 days. sections had to sawed off the barrier much later on so that access to either side of the street could be provided us lowly pedestrians.

the median barrier was dismantled little by little

but the median barrier was not only slightly stupid. it turns out to be absolutely unnecessary. last year, vehicles on the taft-bound side of gil puyat were finally allowed to turn left into tordesillas, which meant that it was no longer necessary to do a U-turn in malugay just to get into salcedo village. it merely required tinkering with the traffic lights. so this meant that all those resources, including public money and manpower that was put into building that median barrier was for naught, because a few clicks and rewiring basically solved a really old traffic issue.

but the barrier remained despite this development, and it became obvious that its main purpose was just to annoy all drivers on malugay, or to make space on either side narrower than it already is. the other week, workmen from bgy. bel-air came in to finally dismantle the median barrier, and since they've finished the work, malugay never felt so wide. again, several man hours (which also cost money) could have been saved if whoever ordered that the median barrier be built (someone i know from the makati city hall says the city government had nothing to do with it while the workers from the barangay hall said the barangay didn't build it either). of course new problems are arising, since car owners are now deciding it's fine to park along the street, but it's definitely a welcome development.

now something new has come our way. some months ago, the stretch of gil puyat from the intersection in malugay all the way to ayala was scraped and a new layer of smooth asphalt was laid. this also meant that new traffic lines had to be painted on the street. perhaps the workmen had too much paint available that they decided to also brighten up the boxed X (this is apparently called a box junction, the purpose of which most drivers are unaware of, or just ignore) on the intersection which was already fading. i remember even watching how they did it. basically there was a contraption that had very gooey paint fired up which left a thick layer of paint on the asphalt that was immediately cooled by some material that resembled salt. anyway, it turns out that the intersection was also due for scraping (see picture above, and this still bright pink stripe near the manhole cover) to make its surface even and smooth. again, what a waste of both paint and manhours which could have been addressed if the concerned agencies just talked to each other.

by the way, i don't understand this approach to fixing or maintaining roads by piling layers of asphalt on them. now the road is as high as the sidewalk, and for some reason, the middle part is significantly higher than the edges of the road close to the sidewalk. it resembles a mound. also, it's a nightmare for car owners since a new layer of asphalt would result into depressions where manhole covers are present. why do we choose short-lived solutions to recurring problems?