Why not a massive road building project to the mountains?
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - August 19, 2015 - 10:00am

The roads from downtown Cebu City to the mountain barangays have remained embarrassingly narrow up to the present day that they do not match the unbridled pride we hold for our city. If the quality of its roads is a factor in declaring a local government unit to be among the better governed, Cebu City may not rank high. While, for instance, a longer stretch of the road from somewhere in Barangay Pit-os to Cambinocot, is concreted already, (thanks to the focused efforts of His Honor Mayor Michael L. Rama!) vehicles, even the ones with smaller capacity, when coming from opposite directions, have to slow down in order to negotiate the narrow path and avoid colliding with one another. I am told that the road condition in Tisa to Buhisan is not different.

There is, of course, the so-called Trans-central highway, a brainchild of former Governor Lito Osmena, that commences from somewhere in the vicinity of Marco Polo Hotel and winds its way thru several Cebu City barangays to the western part of Cebu island to end in Balamban town. We have been breast beating in claiming that it is a wide avenue. Indeed, its width is something we can be proud of because there is none in the province that is wider. Yet, if we compare it to the highways that connect Metro Manila to outlying Luzon provinces, we will be embarrassed to find out that its width is but a small fraction of Luzonian highways.

It is not useful to expect Imperial Manila to help Cebu City to address our traffic woes let alone modernize our road systems. Our national leaders will never have the mind to pour enough of people's money to make our city leap our development efforts forward and overtake the prominence of the nation's capital. If we look up to the national government to improve our roads and spur our growth, we will rot.

Without doubt, it has become imperative to build wide roads towards our mountains. And the time is now, not tomorrow. This need is demand driven. And I can parrot at least two obvious reasons. First, up there on the hilly part of our city, we have arable lands that can be farmed in order to meet the future food requirements of city residents. There may not be space to grow enough rice for the city population because aside from the Cambinocot-Paril and Bonbon areas, the sloping terrain is not suited for such kind of staple, but certainly other crops may be abundantly cultivated.

The absence of good and wide roads to many parts of our mountain barangays puts up a formidable block to working the field. When otherwise fertile lands are inaccessible, farmers are without incentives to work there. Not only are agricultural inputs like seeds and fertilizers burdensome to carry on foot even the produce, when borne on the back of our farmhands, is not aplenty and because of the difficulty of travel, its quality commands discouraging price tags.

Second. In the lower part of the city, the space is getting limited for residential purposes. Population density is heavy in urban Cebu City. Houses are built so close to one another that there is literally no space left. Even the high-end subdivisions are cramped, testimony to the dire lack of space. This housing congestion in the urban barangays makes the available upland area necessary.

No one in his right mind will be motivated to build his home in unreachable upland lands. Conversely speaking, when adequate, safe and well-paved roads are constructed towards the mountains, people are likely to reside there and we decongest the urban area.

The city has just shown that the SRP, built by people's taxes, can generate huge funds. I am a bit saddened that no part of the initial inflow of SRP sales proceeds is targeted for road development. Let us then bring to the attention of the mayor that it is now the time to plan a massive road building program to penetrate many parts of our mountain barangays and sell portions of the SRP to fund the undertaking. I believe that such direction can bring unprecedented benefits to our city and its residents.



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