EDITORIAL - Solutions planned before problems arise

The Freeman

It is indeed propitious that Tomas Osmeña is the mayor only of Cebu City and not of either the neighboring Mandaue City to the north or Lapu-Lapu City on Mactan Island. Because if he had his way, his solution to traffic on both the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge and the Marcelo Fernan Bridge is to ban private vehicles from the only two land links between Cebu mainland and Mactan during peak hours.

Why and how Osmeña came up with the proposal is difficult to understand. Private vehicles are not the problem. Or if they are, they are just one among many contributing factors. So why single them out? Besides, banning private vehicles, or any vehicle for the matter, is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction that does not really solve the problem.

Unless it is legally possible for government to stop people from buying vehicles, the solution to having too many vehicles - private, public, commercial or whatever - is to find ways to accommodate them. Not only that, government has to find ways to accommodate vehicles long long before there is any real need to start accommodating them. It is called getting ahead of the problem.

As it is, the problem is already hard upon us. We are drowning in it. And what Osmeña is doing is simply flailing his arms around for something that floats to grab and hold on. Osmeña has been in public service since 1988. That is a 28-year headstart to this particular problem. If all that he can come up with is to ban all private vehicles at certain times from using either bridge, it probably would not be unfair to ask what has he been thinking all that time.

To be sure, Osmeña is just a mayor, although he did become a congressman once. But let us not disregard the fact that he is an Osmeña. It is a name that opens doors. It is a name that shakes foundations. When an Osmeña speaks, especially from his seat of power in Cebu, the premier province in the land, the powers-that-be have to listen.

Now, whether the powers-that-be get to like what they hear can be a matter of conjecture. It may also depend on the prevailing political climate. But they get to listen nevertheless. And when people listen, they get to think. In other words, there could not have been a dearth of opportunities in all of those 28 years for Osmeña to get people to listen to what he has got to say about Cebu's problems.

Yet here we are, toying with the idea of banning certain vehicles from using the two bridges between Cebu and Mactan. The idea is no different from proposing a ban on the use of computers, smartphones and similar gadgets at certain times to speed up the Internet. Everybody, of course, knows what the real solution is to either predicament. But nobody seems to want to go there. So we are right where we are, contemplating whether or not to smash the bottle because we did not bring the opener.

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