MANILA, Philippines—As a measure to alleviate the crush of cars this holiday season along one of Manila’s main thoroughfares, operators of shopping malls situated along the stretch of EDSA have conceded to adjusting their hours of operation.
Mall operators discussed the plan—on its first year of implementation—with Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) officials at a meeting held on Friday, November 21, at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.
A manifesto for the “open late-close late” scheme was signed by the operators, who agreed to apply an 11 a.m.–11 p.m. operations schedule from November 28 to January 3; instead of the usual 10 a.m. to 9 or 10 p.m. mall schedule.
Francis Tolentino, chairperson of the MMDA, said that the “sacrifice” of the mall operators “will surely alleviate the traffic situation in Metro Manila during the holiday rush.”
The MMDA pointed out that the volume of vehicles on the roads, particularly on EDSA, increases by 15-20 percent during the holiday season.
As such, the agency is positive that the temporary schedule adjustment will help ease road conditions; as the traffic to and from the malls will not coincide with early morning and early evening rush hour traffic.
Paul Santos of the Philippine Retailers Association raised a matter of concern regarding the new system, as he said that employees who work beyond 10 pm are entitled to a night differential pay rate.
“The changing of the schedule for more than a month will certainly raise our cost. There is one consequence for us, for example. If our employees are made to work beyond 10 p.m., we are required to pay them a night differential which is a cost implication for us,” Santos said.
But he acquiesced to the decision of the mall operators, noting that “since they (mall operators) have agreed, we retailers will go with the idea and hope that the (MMDA) chair’s proposal will help improve Metro Manila traffic.”
Fifteen malls along EDSA signed their agreement to the temporary scheme; among these, SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia, Trinoma, Farmers Plaza, Robinson’s Galleria and Robinson’s Pioneer.