Suggestions to ease Cebu traffic

POINTILLISMS - Mike Acebedo Lopez (The Freeman) - October 11, 2014 - 12:00am

Before we even talk about cutting very old narra trees for the multibillion peso Bus Rapid Transit or BRT project here in Cebu, let's explore other ways, simple and workable solutions, to mitigate the worsening traffic conditions here in Cebu.

1.Pave the side streets. Cebu City and its adjacent cities have a lot of smaller streets one can take as an alternate route or a short cut to your destination, allowing you to avoid heavy traffic in main thoroughfares, especially during rush hour; while at it, you also keep yourself from being a burden to other motorists and public utility vehicles plying the main routes.

Problem is, the only "decent" roads we have are the highways and the avenues; try driving through interior streets and it feels like the next car you'd want to buy is a moon buggy – craters galore! At least the moon has a weaker gravitational pull versus the earth's, and lucky you and me, we're here on earth, almost equatorial, gravity, craters and all.

And government, por favor, before you start fixing busy streets, make sure you fix your planned diversion first. Case in point: When the brilliant people behind the construction at Hernan Cortes (where Jade Court is) decided to bear holes into that always hectic street, they failed to first fix their planned diversion that leads to where J. Centre Mall is.  Ginoo ko, ang libaong. #Offroad #Wagas  

So please, Metro Cebu mayors, DPWH, pave the side streets and pave them well. Not tapal-tapal chipipay bullcrap. When the BIR terrorizes taxpayers into coughing up more than what is comfortable, even more is expected of government.

2. Create more access roads. Study the flow of traffic and see if there are public lands that can be converted to access roads, even temporarily.  Big private lots may also be negotiated for temporary use as access roads in exchange for reasonable tax breaks.  Camp Lapu-Lapu can, for instance, if opened to the general public (even if only during rush hour), accommodate people driving from Capitol/ Guadalupe/ Lahug to Banilad/ Talamban. That frees up Salinas Drive which is almost always plagued with heavy traffic.

3. CITOM, should know its priorities! If only the CITOM had as much vigor and fervor in clamping or towing vehicles parked in designated pay parking areas between 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. to implement the so senseless "No overnight parking" policy as they are in disciplining erring jeepney drivers, then I guarantee you, Cebu will be a much, much better place.

Jeepneys stop in "No stopping anytime" areas. They drive through "No PUJ lanes." Every time, everywhere. Shameless and blatant. But what does CITOM do? I don't see any effort.

Take the case of the jeepneys outside Landbank (the Central Bank-City Central-Landbank-DBP intersection); the jeepneys occupying a main road just seem to park there, regardless whether the traffic light is green or red, no matter that there are cars behind them, they just park there, biding their sweet time collecting passengers until their moving makeshift contraptions are filled to the brim, nay, until these overflow with people. Now don't get me started on the safety issues therein.

Imagine if CITOM were more diligent in pursuing these selfish and inconsiderate jeepney drivers? Selfish and inconsiderate because you honk and honk and they won't give a hoot.

Then there's the case of when jeepneys use the interior lanes of main highways otherwise known as "No PUJ lanes" (and most, if not all of them use it) only to cut through to the two outer lanes because they will stop on a whim. How many vehicles are slowed down by this rampant and abusive practice? Countless. The result is heavy traffic. I hate that I've to point out something so basic but it begs saying again and again: strictly implement the "No PUJ lane" and "No stopping any time" policies to educate and train our jeepney drivers. #Kaskasero 

4.Moratorium on new developments. I know this sounds drastic but perhaps it's time we issue a short-term moratorium on new property developments especially in the midtown, uptown, and suburban Cebu City areas until a careful and exhaustive land use and zoning study is undertaken, one that takes into account populations, public infrastructure, traffic, flood prevention measures, water and power supply, waste management, ecological balance, overall quality of life. And, subsequently, a comprehensive program that addresses gaps identified in the study. Then and only then should we lift the moratorium.  

Sure these developments bring instant revenue to the city and contribute to a semblance of progress (if one's idea of progress is limited to a skyline defined by buildings, a concrete jungle), but just think of the disastrous effects in the long run of a once-promising city whose economy is paralyzed by traffic jams. With developments sprouting like mushrooms and infrastructure not ready to accommodate them, a real estate bubble is possible.

 My golly, we're not Manila, and we should thank God we aren't. Let's keep it that way. Besides, we can survive without the next condo project; our local economy is strong, powered by trading (which has always been Cebu's strength) plus government spending on infrastructure hopefully based on the aforementioned study. 

It's never good to bite off more than we can chew. Greed and gluttony lead to a state of empacho, dyspepsia. And today, that's exactly how it feels driving around Cebu. 


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