What the eyes can see
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - March 7, 2019 - 12:00am

Even to the least observant among us, travel is still educational. It is certain that we always add a new perception of how things are or should be each time we venture beyond our immediate surroundings. How we work on such education and apply whatever learning we get on our individual lives or society though depends entirely on us. My own encounters with complete strangers, on one hand, for instance, have mostly been heartwarming. Some Caucasians I met in Sacramento, California, showed sincere helpfulness (of the kind many Cebuanos are known for, thank God) in giving directions to disoriented travellers. On the other hand, there were disturbing scenes that I saw along a highway in Cairo, Egypt. Dirt like the ugly piles of uncollected garbage on Cebu City roadsides littered where disheveled homes (not quite unlike some shanties of informal settlers) stood.


As we travel, we see sights novel to us that are worth replicating at our home or for our authorities to do in our city. In much the same way, we immediately feel the undesirability of those that appear to breach our own arbitrary standards of orderliness to the point of being offended. I grappled with these challenging thoughts when I alternately went to the northern and southern parts of Cebu Province last week.

Public works greeted my eyes. There is an immediately perceptible government effort to widen the highways in the province while in comparison there is none in Cebu City. We see interminable stretches of cementation on both sides of the road from somewhere in Consolacion to Bogo City in the north and from Talisay to Dumanjug town, in the south. That is the good part of these massive road widening jobs.

 I noticed though that the full beneficiary impact of the government’s infrastructure might not be fully achieved. What is the ultimate objective of road widening, anyway? To me, an ordinary citizen, the answer is better flow of vehicular traffic. But, there are impediments on the newly concreted portions of the road. We cannot maximize use of the highway when there are trees still growing in the middle of the newly concreted portions. Whoever contracted these works should have previously obtained permission from DENR to cut these trees. It is now rather late. Still it has become imperative that these trees have to be removed or we might hear of tragic vehicular accidents.

 There are posts that also stand on the widened portions of the highway. I presume that these have been erected by utility companies years ago. Not only do these posts hinder a better flow of traffic, they constitute deadly hazards. The owners of these posts have the urgent duty to clear the road of these structures before they cause fatal accidents although I believe the road builders have the obligation to remove these obstructions. The fear I raised above on trees that still grow on the highway is the same fear I have as regards these posts. I pray that my fear is not overtaken by the actual happening of accidents.

 In the trips that I recently did, I saw stretches of the widened highway that were made narrow by vehicles that are parked on the road, advertisement stands of various makes and sizes  and worse make shift structures mostly for vending products. Unless the government clears all of these obstructions now seen on the newly constructed road widening, I can harshly admit that the taxes we paid for these infrastructure are thus wasted simply because the widened avenues are reverted back to their original narrow build by human indiscretion. 

During our southern travel, we could not run the normal car speed of sixty kilometers per hour. At times, we had to slow down to only 10-15 kilometers per hour instead because ahead of us were motorized tricycles. In effect, while we could have negotiated the 20 kilometer Carcar City-Barili span, in twenty five minutes, we took almost an hour with tricycles along the way. We do not need rocket science to conclude that allowing tricycles on highways spells traffic jams. It is an urgent matter for government to take care specially that livelihood on some sectors stand to be affected. However, our leaders must not lose sight of the reality that the benefit expected of the kind of infrastructure government doing will be only marginalized if these impediments are not factored in. Let authorities open their eyes!

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