If leaders want to solve traffic woes
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - October 10, 2019 - 12:00am

My high school science teacher said in order to solve a problem, the first step is to know what the problem is. Her instruction has served as my guide in approaching challenging situations up to now. Even in matters not of my direct personal concern I use the same formula. I particularly remembered my teacher when the driver of the taxicab I took the other day complained about his diminishing income. He said that the worsening traffic gridlock is the culprit. Road congestion reduced his daily number of passengers but increased the amount of gasoline he used. It was good that Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, in his inaugural address, promised to the excitement of the motoring public, to tackle this problem immediately. Unfortunately, to him, ominous silence followed the announcement. Why is it, the taxi driver asked, that he hears no more of any move to solve this traffic crisis?

The cab driver was apparently not just an ordinary citizen. His language demonstrated a politically observant mind. I sat in silence as he discussed statistics on the annual increase of number of vehicles against the failure of government to open new roads. I remembered my high school teacher because the driver said this exponential growth caused our traffic woes. He identified the problem and I shared with his idea that to lessen traffic jams the number of vehicles in the streets must be reduced. But, how?

My trip took me almost an hour, enough time for me to discern he talked about some issues I wrote in this column few years back. I raised probing questions though and his answers made me conclude we were complete strangers. Then, his political mind surfaced. He wished to see Metro Cebu political leaders band together and meet their common patron in President Rodrigo Duterte. These politicians should ask Duterte to certify as urgent two-pronged legislative matters to his subservient (my word) allies in Congress and Senate.

The first item in the driver’s proposal has socio-democratic flavor. But, rather than promote the bourgeois-proletariat struggle, he looks at a more practical consideration. In his espousal, there should be a law to limit the number of cars allowed to affluent families. His magic number is four. No family should own more than four cars. He also notes that in gated, high-end residential subdivisions, we can see garages filled with eight to 10 vehicles. He said rich people must not be allowed to flood the roads with unlimited number of automobiles. They should share the streets with public transportation units. Putting a ceiling on car ownership approximates, to a certain limited but appreciable extent, that ideal.

The second prong complements limited car ownership. Old cars should not be allowed on the streets. Environmental demands make their operations hazardous with the driver mouthing technical issues beyond my understanding. Economically speaking, it is more expensive to maintain old vehicles than later models. To make the intended legislation reasonable, the taxi man wants a graduation in the annual fee registration of vehicles. There are people who, for different persuasions, want to keep vintage units. Thus, owners of 5-10 year old cars, shall be asked to pay double registration fee, triple for vehicles used for 10-15 and quadruple for units beyond 15 years of age. Accordingly, this scheme takes out from the road a certain percentage of cars.

Before I could reach my destination, the taxi driver believed that presidential certification to Congress of the urgency of these kinds of bills would be faster and less expensive to pursue if only Labella et al find time to do more than lip service in tackling our traffic problem.


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