Motorists irked over unannounced road closures for Xi’s visit

November 21, 2018 - 1:18 PM
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China's President Xi Jinping
China's President Xi Jinping and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte toast during a State Banquet at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines, November 20, 2018. (Mark Cristino/Pool via Reuters)

Photos of a traffic gridlock and commuters being forced to walk along the road en route to the airport in Pasay City circulated on Facebook amid the arrival of Chinese President Xi Jinping on November 20.

Parts of the Metro Manila Skyway and the South Luzon Expressway below it are not included in the released list of roads to be closed and re-routed provided by the Metro Manila Development Authority.

Facebook user Rex Varona shared snapshots of vehicles caught in heavy traffic plying along Skyway to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay city. Some people also opted to walk on the highway instead of waiting it out.

20 Nov 2018, Skyway. Kilometric line of cars stuck at the Skyway on way to NAIA because the expressway was…

Posted by Rex Varona on Monday, November 19, 2018

 

He wrote that many motorists took the Skyway as the alternative course when the SLEX was suddenly closed down to give way to Xi’s convoy.

Local authorities did not provide official advisories of it being closed, he added.

“Many passengers forced to walk, luggage and all, along the skyway hoping to catch their flights. Sacrifice the welfare of thousands, for the convenience of one,” Varona said.

Two other snapshots, however, showed that it was the rotunda going to Villamor Air Base that was closed, not the expressway.

cause of heavy traffic at magallanes – slex 🙈 oopppss! roads closed ❌ going to villamor airbase – resorts world – naia #whenchinesepresidentvisits #malinis #tahimik

Posted by Galithea Faye Borja on Tuesday, November 20, 2018

 

The user on Instagram shared that the Nichols service road was also sealed off. Nichols is a small thoroughfare that connects to the rotunda.

The time stamps in the posts suggest that the road shutdown started at around three in the afternoon.

However, the specific times when the area was closed and opened to the public are difficult to determine.

Xi arrived at around 1 p.m.

Road closures

MMDA’s list of road closures and re-routes released on November 19 did not include any passage ways within the rotunda leading to Villamor Air Base and NAIA in Pasay.

It also did not cover any road of the region’s longest flyover.

It mainly includes busy districts in Manila, where Xi’s convoy passed through as part of the announced itinerary. These included parts of the Roxas Boulevard, Taft Avenue, Nagtahan and the bridges Jones, McArthur and Quezon.

The agency likewise did not issue any advisories on its social media accounts of changes with the scheme on the day itself.

It, however, advised motorists going to Bonifacio Global City in Taguig that authorities will seal off some roads there. Xi reportedly stayed at the Shangri-La Hotel in Taguig.

Skyway’s governing body, meanwhile, shared updates of the traffic situation around that time on Twitter. But the move also did not help motorists and commuters who were already trapped in the gridlock.

Xi’s trip

On November 20, Xi first visited Rizal Park in Manila for a wreath-laying ceremony in the afternoon.

After the event, Xi went to Malacañang to meet and discuss with President Rodrigo Duterte until the state banquet in the evening.

On November 21, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Senate President Vicente Sotto III are expected to pay him a courtesy call.

The Chinese president will depart from Manila to China at NAIA Terminal I.