Cashing in on hopelessness
TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - February 11, 2019 - 12:00am

Within the month, traffic enforcers in Cebu City will start confiscating the licenses of motorists caught violating traffic rules in the city. The move, according to the bright boys at City Hall, is meant to instill discipline among motorists. At the same time, it will help decongest city streets of traffic.

Because everything has apparently been all ironed out already, it is pointless at this stage to protest and resist the move, that is unless one is prepared to bring the matter to court. It is not too late, however, to expose the move for what it really is, which is just another way for the city to squeeze more money out of an already suffering citizenry.

That confiscating licenses will result in instilling discipline among drivers proceeds from the fallacy that all traffic violations are born of a willful intent to violate rules. That, of course, is not true. And the authorities are not in possession of anything to prove otherwise.

Many violations can and are the result of misappreciation of circumstances that can descend at any time on the road, forcing motorists to make unintended decisions. When intent cannot be established in a violation, then discipline cannot be considered a factor in its commission.

It is also wishful thinking to say confiscating licenses will result in lesser traffic congestion. Thousands of new vehicles every month enter a road network that has seen little or no expansion in decades. But even without new vehicles, roads will remain to be heavily congested because confiscated licenses will not remain confiscated for long.

In tandem with the implementation of license confiscation is the operation of so-called 24/7 adjudication boards from where drivers can get back their licenses upon payment of a fine. That the fines can be hefty will not deter drivers from paying them. If people can throw money for anything, even for drugs, why not for something as essential as a license.

In other words, a driver who has his license confiscated in the morning can be back on the streets in the afternoon and the traffic congestion will scarcely miss his absence, if at all. Moreover, it is entirely possible for an enforcer earning no more than the minimum wage to be tempted by a P900 bribe a driver might be willing to offer in lieu of paying the P1,000 fine.

What this move really looks like to me, considering that it will never become what it is cracked up to be, is just another means by the city government to raise more revenues. It is a shameless effort to make money out of an increasingly hopeless traffic situation that none of the bright boys at City Hall can ever hope to solve. If you can't solve the mess, might as well earn from it.

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