From centers of convenience to structures of obstruction.
Giant shopping malls offer one-stop shop experience under one roof offering a variety of goods and services in controlled temperature, secure premises, and automated or electronic shopping experience for consumers.
But if the mere act of driving to malls and getting out of them is a such a drag because of monstrous traffic, the experience becomes a struggle and sometimes even traumatic.
Needless to say here, shopping or even just chilling at malls should be a breeze.
With the crippling traffic along EDSA and other roads in Metro Manila costing P3.5-billion a day in lost opportunities, Senator Richard J. Gordon has flared up at malls located along highways and roads that cause monstrous traffic jams.
"Traffic in Metro Manila continues to get worse, now it cost about P3.5-billion a day. Other cities in the country are now having traffic problems too. This problem is caused by the malls built by rapacious, greedy, avaricious, predatory and opportunistic people who take unfair advantage of the country's infrastructures and corrupt officials who allow them. If you notice, all malls are located in high traffic density areas," he said.
The Philippine office of the aid agency Japan International Cooperation Agency has reported that the worsening traffic in Metro Manila now costs P3.5 billion in lost opportunities per day, and highlighted the need for new and modern infrastructure to ease congestion
However, Gordon said that to ease traffic, it is important to have a well-planned city with proper land-use plan, with community centers, with malls and other recreation facilities, built in the middle of the townships and not along highways.
"It's about time that this country plans its cities right. In other countries, you cannot see malls along the highways - they are built in the middle of the town and people flocking to the malls do not cause traffic to grind to a halt. Dito sa atin, nasa tabi ng highway ang malls kaya ang traffic hindi umaandar. Dapat hindi pinapayagan na magtayo ng malls along highways and national roads," he said.
But since malls are permanent structures, the government has little options to address the traffic problem.
Rerouting of certain public utility vehicle and regulation of private cars could ease the problem, but they can only go so far.
An integrated or inter-modal transport system might be able to do the trick, but this would take a long time to put in place.
Gordon is right in saying that better urban planning and zoning would have prevented Metro Manila’s legendary traffic jams.
But that is all water under the bridge now.
Perhaps the answer lies in outward expansion away from urban centers into nearby underdeveloped regions.