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Manila undermined by limited infrastructure investment

Under-investment in infrastructure in Manila contributes not only to traffic gridlock but also reduced productivity. (Roberto Verzo/flickr/cc)

The glacial pace of infrastructure investment in the Philippines takes a toll on Manila and other cities — and not just in obvious ways.

The noticeable consequences, World Bank research analyst Joseph Louie Limkin writes in a blog post, include traffic congestion and train malfunctions.

Less obvious impacts include lost productivity when commuters spend extra hours on roads to travel short distances, Limkin writes. Nationwide, clogged streets contribute to productivity losses that total an estimated $54 million a day or $18 billion a year, the blog post says. 

Stopgap policies designed to improve the situation are sometimes ill-conceived and backfire. A decision to allow unsafe trucks to operate late at night resulted in accidents involving sleepy drivers that stalled Manila traffic the next morning.

The root of the problem is that infrastructure investments don’t keep pace with population growth and economic expansion, Limkin says. Compounding the situation: several public-private partnership initiatives have been delayed “at various stages from planning to implementation.”

World Bank

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