MANILA: Residents of the Philippine capital got the first taste Monday of a traffic nightmare that will likely worsen and drag on for four years, city officials warned.
Several lanes of Metropolitan Manila's main highways will be closed starting Monday night as part of a series of road construction and upgrading projects for the city of about 12 million, the officials said.
"We are informing the general public to brace for the traffic situation which we will be encountering for the next four years," said Francisco Manalo, executive director of the capital's traffic office, as angry commuters took to social media to vent their frustrations.
Manalo warned that once construction began, vehicles on the city's main roads would literally be reduced to crawling speed of one to nine kilometres or 0.6 to 5.6 miles an hour, compared to the already slow normal 20 kilometres per hour.
Motorists and commuters fearful of getting stuck on the roads left home earlier than usual Monday.
But with so many vehicles on the road as the day began, traffic in and around Manila was snarled for hours Monday morning.
"Traffic armageddon begins in Manila!!," tweeted San Crisselle Tiu, while Chay1007 said she had to bring "extra supply of patience".
Once actual construction begins, it could take a vehicle at least two hours to travel the 19-kilometre stretch down the city's main thoroughfare, warned Vicente Lizada, spokesman for the Metro Manila Development Authority traffic monitoring office.
The authority has asked contractors to provide staff to help direct traffic.
Manalo said they are also looking at alternatives such as using the Pasig River for commuter traffic even though the last river ferry closed down in 2011 due to low income. (AFP)