Was traffic really bad yesterday, Dec. 21, or was it typical Friday traffic? A lot of people have been talking or posting about how traffic last Friday was expected to be the worst of the year. Apparently, it was not.
Based on posts on my social media accounts yesterday, it seems that traffic was not at all that bad in many parts of Metro Manila, especially along roads that were expected to be hellish in terms of congestion. One post stated that it him only an hour to travel from Ayala to Trinoma by bus. People usually post about really bad experiences about traffic congestion and this crowd-sourcing approach is usually very reliable. I went home early yesterday and it didn’t take me long to travel between stops for errands I had to do along the way home. Media also would have reported about terrible congestion along major roads including EDSA, C5 and the expressways.
Statements like what the MMDA made prior to Dec. 21 are typical of a psychological approach that some agencies seem to have been resorting to in order to manage people’s expectations and perceptions. Conditioning people’s minds is not a new strategy or tactic. The MMDA has been doing this a lot for as long as I can remember, including during the stint of its former chair Bayani Fernando. Many if not most of these “conditioning” activities are done through media with the agency making statements through its officials about issues such as traffic, garbage and flooding. This is no different to the perception of one agency making frequent “power point presentations” (a reference to projects involving the private sector) to announce much delayed projects supposedly for immediate implementation.
One opinion is that this is a form of damage control. People will usually have strong opinions about what government is doing to address issues like congestion. For people not react too strongly against agencies that are supposed to be responsible for the problem, the same agencies have anticipated and preempted the manifestation of their ineptness by stating the obvious ahead of its occurrence. This would not have been necessary if the agencies did what they were supposed to do in the first place. Hopefully, in the near future such conditioning and other psychological tactics will indeed not be necessary once programs and projects are finally implemented and help alleviate or solve problems.