Traffic congestion: What needs to be done
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Freeman) - October 25, 2016 - 12:00am

It's heartwarming that all the ten Cebuano members of the House of Representatives in a rare show of unity signed resolution no. 484 requesting the support of House Speaker Pantaleon "Bebot" Alvarez to include P170 million for an "extensive and scientific study" to figure out how to solve Cebu's traffic problem. This study is supposed to be done in six months. However, Rep. Raul del Mar was a bit less optimistic that the allocation for the study could be "inserted" in the 2017 National Budget. But I'm sure that the Duterte administration will certainly find ways to help Cebu in anyway they can. After all, Pres. Duterte has his roots in Cebu.

As we already wrote several times before, the traffic congestion in Cebu is costing us P247 million in wasted time and lost revenues. Frankly speaking, we needed that P170 million six years ago. But for the nth time, the powers-that-be in the Liberal Party didn't care to push for infrastructure projects for Cebu when they were in power. They only gave us propaganda, as if they could fool the Cebuanos. But that is water under the bridge. Let us hope that this time around, Cebu will get its rightful share in infrastructure development.

But it's a no-brainer that after years of looking into our traffic congestion, especially between Mandaue City and Mactan, we know that traffic gets congested in certain key intersections. So are we doing enough to find ways to solve our traffic problems? At this point, I would like to believe that we really haven't exhausted all avenues in our search to improve traffic. For instance, why are there still chapels along the main road?  Whenever there is a funeral vigil, a part of the road is used for the seats for the mourners. If you ask me, this should be stopped immediately and while we're at it, walking funeral processions should be banned. Anyways, most barangays have vehicles for the mourners to use.

Secondly, tire repair shops along the national roads should also be banned. If you ask me, local government units (LGUs) should no longer give business permits to such businesses which occupy road space as they also contribute to traffic congestion. This is what LGU's should all be on the look out for.

Finally, there's a need for a truck ban during rush hour. But in truth, certain areas between Mandaue City and Mactan no longer respect the rush hour. One quick fix is for shippers of container vans to "ship" these containers directly to the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) at certain high traffic volume hours. Again traffic congestion is costing Cebu P247 million per day, so if container vans from Mactan are transported across the Mactan Channel, then we are partly solving our problem of traffic congestion until the third bridge is constructed and flyovers are built on the main thoroughfares between Mandaue City and Mactan.

There is a lesson for us to learn from our traffic congestion. Firstly, if we do not find ways to solve our traffic congestion, the problem will not go away and things would only get worse. We don't have to look far, my best example is what is happening in Escario St. Secondly, we should never stop planning for the future. One of the greatest things that happened to Cebu during the time of then Mayor Tomas Osmeña was the Metro Cebu Development Projects (MCDP) 1 & ll, which widened B. Rodriquez, V. Rama Ave. AS Fortuna Ave., parts of the Talamban Road, and opened the Imus (new road) extension to P. del Rosario St.

While MCDP l & ll were unforgettable projects that happened in Cebu; when the funding for these infrastructure projects dried up, the MCDP office was shut down and it ended any future planning for Cebu. If only they kept the MCDP Planning Office, we could have continued making plans for the future of Cebu. Again, this is one of the endemic problems of the government, when it does something very well, our political leaders sit on their laurels patting themselves on the back for a job well done, boasting of the success of the project. Then years later because they did not plan things properly, they end up catching up for lost time.

Another case in point is the sanitary landfill in Barangay Inayawan, which last week, no less than Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Regina Lopez ordered its immediate closure. Again, this was one of our projects in the Regional Development Council (RDC) during our day (that's 20 years ago) but because the City of Cebu stopped all planning, the sanitary landfill rapidly filled up with garbage and now it is way past it's lifespan.  Currently, the sanitary landfill has become an environmental hazard to the nearby residents, and the City of Cebu refuses to shut it down simply because they have no other alternative landfill to use. That is why a planning office is crucial for the needs of the government.

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