Once again, the Philippines has the dubious distinction of having something declared to be the worst in the world. And it has happened to our country for two years in a row, as if last year’s unflattering news wasn’t enough. And to make matters worst, or to “worsen the worst,” it seems our local and national leaders just don’t care if we always remain the worst.
I’m referring to the recent revelation of Waze—the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app used by motorists and commuters—that out of 186 urban places evaluated in 2016, Cebu has been found to be the world’s worst urban area to drive in.
A blog posted on September 13 at the Waze website announced: “Cebu, Philippines, ranked as least satisfying or the worst urban area in the world to be a driver.” It earned a very low 1.15 DSI or Driver Satisfaction Index (a score of 10 is satisfying while a score of 1 is miserable).
Next to Cebu is Bogor, Indonesia (2.15 DSI), followed by San Salvador in El Salvador (2. 85 DSI). Other areas here like Angeles City in Pampanga ranked 147th, while Metro Manila jumped to 170th spot from being the worst last year.
The Waze results were based on six key factors: traffic level by frequency and severity of traffic jams; road quality and infrastructure; driver safety based on accidents, road hazards and weather; driver services like access to gas stations and easy parking; socioeconomic, including access to cars and impact of gas prices; and “Wazeyness,” the level of helpfulness and happiness within the Waze community.
Overall, the Philippines ranked second lowest among 38 countries. “And where is it tough to be a driver? El Salvador, the Philippines, Guatemala, Panama and Indonesia are the least satisfying places to drive globally, largely due to intense traffic and low Wazeyness and socio-economic factors,” the website said.
It added the best countries in the world for drivers are Netherlands (7.54 DSI), France (7.42), United States (7.22), Czech Republic (6.91), and Sweden (6. 88).
Last year, Waze studied driving experiences of about 50 million users in 32 countries and 167 major urban areas and found that Metro Manila had “the worst traffic on Earth, with Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Jakarta not far behind.”
While Cebu transport officials say the Waze 2016 findings might not be accurate because of missing index data, published reports indicate many Cebuanos agree the Queen City of the South is miserable for drivers mainly because infrastructure has not kept up with more vehicles.
The unflattering Waze findings should stir decisive action to cope with the global trend towards urbanization which appears irreversible as majority of the world’s population now live in cities. The tipping point in the worldwide demographic shift from rural to urban was recorded in 2010 as urban population outnumbered rural for the first time. By 2030, six out of every 10 people worldwide are expected to be in cities.
To meet the challenges of urbanization, the Philippines has a law enacted way back in 1992—the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA)—that sought to tackle not only housing for the poor but also problems posed by rural to urban migration and its effects on transport systems.
UDHA tasked local governments and national agencies to come up with mechanisms to attain smooth traffic flow and achieve balance between urban capabilities and population growth, among others. It intended to slow down migration to urban areas by developing other growth areas in various regions and protect urban centers from rapid urbanization.
Unfortunately, such law seems to be ignored. Unless fully implemented, the situation will surely “worsen the worst.”