Like spokes inside a wheel

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - August 19, 2019 - 12:00am

I am not a traffic expert. Neither am I an urban planner. As for being a social scientist, I do not even know what it is or what such a person is supposed to do. I am just your ordinary guy with a lot of coins in his pocket and too much time in his hands. Thus, giving my two cents worth on just about anything is awfully quite easy to me. I could do it from my rocking chair.

Like the traffic situation in Cebu, which I heard has gone from bad to worse. I have not been home for nearly six months straight already, on account of a mission God has tasked me to perform, here where I am at present, in the hometown of my wife in Carigara, Leyte. But I do get regular updates on the now notorious Cebu traffic from two daughters I left in Cebu, and news and opinion pieces, as well as personal accounts of Cebu visitors.

And the common culprit being blamed for the mess are the roads --how there are just too few of them and how narrow they are. Complaints pour in about why no new roads are being built, either at ground level, above ground, or even underneath it, or how come those that are in place are not being widened, or widened enough, or fast enough.

Well, here is my two cents worth on the issue. I think it is wrong, or at least the time has long passed when the problem can still be solved from the perspective of roads. At this point let me say it in Cebuano because it is in Cebuano that something can be expressed very clearly and precisely: Bisan og magtuwadtuwad pa ta og himo og bag-ong mga karsada, dili na karsada ang sulbad ning problemaha.

You see, I look at the problem and picture it as a wheel, with the wheel and everything within its circumference as Cebu. The spokes within the wheel represent the roads of the city. Depending on your perspective, the spokes may lead inward to the center, or outward from it to the rim. Some wheels can have as few as three spokes, but you can only build as many until there is nowhere else within the wheel to build more spokes.

I do not think, therefore, that roads are the problem, and much less the solution. I think the real problem is the number of vehicles we keep, and keep introducing into our roads. It is not about garages or the lack of them, as some mistakenly think. With or without garages, vehicles will still have to go out on the road, and it is how many there are at a given time that poses the problem because, for all intents and purposes, it is all the time.

So if you want to solve the Cebu traffic problem, don't think roads, think vehicles. And think national. Now, as I have made clear at the outset, I am not a traffic expert nor an urban planner and definitely not a social scientist. So my proposed solution can be a bit draconian, even downright stupid. But then again, as I also said, it is just two cents worth, too small a price to pay for a little stupidity that might work.

My proposal: Completely ban the sale of new vehicles nationwide, maybe for five years, or until such time that enough old vehicles can be phased out. If it is arbitrary or even unconstitutional, let the legal experts take care of that. As to business losses, wasn't it said that we are losing billions already to traffic? So take your pick. Why nationwide? Because vehicles are not houses. They can easily roll from place to place.

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