Build build build, but
TO THE QUICK - Jerry S. Tundag (The Freeman) - October 23, 2019 - 12:00am

Three years into the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte and his flagship infrastructure project "build build build" is now very apparent nationwide. Here in the province of Leyte where I currently am, the 110-kilometer stretch of highway between Ormoc City and the capital Tacloban, which I am very familiar with, has seen all its bridges widened or being widened, its old two lanes now four.

But there is a problem. Despite the spanking new concrete outer lanes going either way, virtually all motorists still use the old inner lanes. The only time motorists use the new outer lanes is when they wrongly and illegally overtake from the right when they cannot do so from the left because of oncoming traffic.

Instead of facilitating ease in the flow of traffic and safety on the road, "build build build's" new wide highways seem to have backfired. They are now the cause of danger on the road. And while no study has probably been made yet on the death toll in these new superfast highways, I would presume there is a drastic uptick in the numbers than the old figures culled from incidents on the old highways.

The rule is supposed to be that the outer lane is for slow-moving vehicles. There is a reason for this. It is better to have slow moving vehicles than speeding ones next to the sidewalks or shoulders of the road where the people are. As it is now, all vehicles running at varying speeds are using the inner or fast lane and use the outer or slow lane only for illegal overtaking from the right.

When there are two lanes going in one direction, slow-moving vehicles as well as public transport that need to make frequents stops to pick up or let off passengers like buses, jeepneys, and tricycles should be compelled to use the slow outer lanes. Most accidents happen when everybody is on the inner fast lane and somebody decides to overtake from the right just as a bus or jeepney suddenly swerves to the right to pick or let off passengers.

But compromised road safety is not the only price everyone has to pay as a result of the improper, irresponsible, illegal, or downright non-use of the new lanes in the widened highways. That the new highways are not being used for the purpose that they had been widened or otherwise improved is a painful crying shame considering that it took billions upon billions to build.

Taxes had been raised to backstop the project. One probably still remembered how it broke everybody's back to endure the hefty price increases in petroleum products just to make sure there was a steady tax resource to finance "build build build." In addition to the money shouldered by most everyone, most everyone also had to suffer losses and endure inconvenience from traffic gridlocks during the construction phase.

The costly highways have to be used in accordance with their purpose. They need to be recovered from irresponsible and illegal use. We did not pay a tremendous monetary cost and test the limits of our physical endurance just so people can use the brand-new roads for illegal parking or for drying rice. The LTO, PNP-HPG, and other relevant government agencies should do something to restore purpose to the use of roads.

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