Roy Barnes, a US governor of the state of Georgia in 2003 said: “traffic is only one of the side effects of growth”. I disagree. I say failure of government’s foresight, lack of planning and negligent execution is the cause of traffic woes.
And what is true to Georgia, USA is also true to any congested city in the world – Cebu included. In particular, the horrendous rate of number of new vehicles pouring into our streets every year, government’s inability to build new alternate roads and interminable road repairs and the unrestrained self-indulgent drivers. All these collectively are the ones causing traffic woes in Cebu.
DOTr records as published in: www.dotr.gov.ph said that in 2011, Cebu registered 574,640 vehicles. The following year, vehicle registration reached 625,319. That is 50,679 additional new vehicles. That’s one vehicle every two seconds plying on the same road.
I say the same road because the number of roads opened or developed by our government do not match the number of vehicles churned up every year. This would have been mitigated through creative measures of putting up skyways for pedestrians or the implementation of LRT’s or the BRT’s for the riding commuters. These measures got caught up in the ugly politics of our contending mayors.
The same road problem was magnified by the defective traffic light system. Back in the day, traffic light in Metro Cebu is fully integrated – meaning they work seamlessly without human intervention. This was when the SCATS or Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic Systems was installed in 1990.
The system works with imbedded sensors near intersections with traffic lights. When the sensor detects congestion of vehicles it sends signal to the main traffic controller to adjust the pre-programed time intervals of the green and red lights. This also takes into account for the build up of traffic projected on the next adjacent intersection.
Either politics got in the way or negligence got it, in either case, our poor traffic light system had to go through the gauntlet of the devil and the deep blue sea.
Also, government agencies do not seem to coordinate with one another. For instance, a newly minted road will get excavated after a month for trenching and culvert installation.
We also have more to be desired from our public utility drivers (PUJ’s) and taxi drivers. They stop to pick up or drop off passengers at even the most restricted of places – sometimes in the middle of the road. Accordingly, they do this to get the most number of passengers in hopes to shore up their unit’s rent. On the same reason, they are forced to ran counterflow on heavy traffic only to end up causing more hold ups in traffic.
These PUJ’s also illegally park on thoroughfares to rest or take lunch, snacks or buy at ambulant stores, at times making the entire road length a parklane. Normally, these lanes are overcrowded with stores and vendors that are overbuilt and encroaching into pedestrian lanes thus people are forced to take the road meant for vehicles.
How do we pull these together? We can start with more traffic officers to enforce traffic rules and apprehend jay walkers. Let us hire tow-truck companies for the illegally parked vehicles. Let’s embark on a mass transport system. Let’s clear the pedestrians. Let’s do all these.
The list can go on but until then, I say our traffic woes are the failings of government.