IF local political leaders in Metro Cebu can just get their acts together, there is no doubt we can address the worsening traffic situation here. But the problem is because of personal and political motives and credit-grabbing, they don’t cooperate. I am not an expert but the way I see it, the solution to the traffic woes in Metro Cebu is divided into two components. If we can adopt all these, the better.
First solution is to improve basic infrastructure and the second is to implement a mass transport system. Other suggestions like shorting working days from five to four days and limiting the number of vehicles being sold are just secondary solutions. These “solutions,” if adopted, will affect productivity and income of the workers and will have a negative impact on the economy. Maybe another “crazy” solution is to adopt the one-child policy so we can control the population or ban car importation.
Okay, first things first. Basic infrastructure. If the government has enough budget why not put up more flyovers, expressways (second layer of road networks), tunnels and widen roads that can still be widened. I know these are not the ultimate solutions to the traffic problems but these can greatly help. The flyovers constructed by Cebu City North District Rep. Raul del Mar have somewhat eased the voluminous traffic in areas where these are located.
Some argued that flyovers don’t help because heavy traffic is still experienced in areas where these are located. Yes, I agree because traffic is a network. Like the drainage problem, you can’t just solve it in one intersection. But the problem is politics. During “has-been” mayor Mike Rama’s time, he blocked all the flyover projects of del Mar, saying flyovers destroy the heritage in areas affected and these are “eyesores.” Rama organized a civil group called Movement for a Livable Cebu to join him in blocking del Mar’s networks of flyover projects. And they succeeded. The group pushed for road widening, which is very costly because of the road right-of-way acquisition. Now, where’s that road widening? Nothing happened.
If the government has no budget for more infrastructure construction, we will encourage private companies through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) to undertake the projects and collect tolls. This is already adopted in Metro Manila. Those road networks in the metropolis that collect tolls are constructed and run by private companies. It’s a similar deal to the forthcoming third bridge that will connect Cebu and Mactan Island through Cordova.
Now, on the mass transport system. If we can have a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) like Metro Manila, or even cable cars, why not? (By the way, don’t be confused with LRT and MRT. Both are mass transports and have the same kind of operation. The only difference is the name and route. LRT is run by the government and it services commuters along Taft Ave., Rizal Ave. and Aurora Blvrd., while the MRT is run by Fil-Estate, a private company. It plies the routes of Edsa. They also differ in speed.)
The problem with our local politicians is they can’t unite and they are on their own because of personal interest and credit-grabbing. The “former political has-been” will not support the LRT because the poor cannot avail themselves of its services because of steep fares. He is pushing for the BRT, which is now on planning stage. I suspect that he is not keen on the LRT because his nemesis, Presidential Assistance for the Visayas Michael Dino, is the one pushing it. But just the other day, he signed a memorandum of understanding allowing a private company to conduct a feasibility study for a possible operation of a Monorail Transit System. Tan-awa rag unsa ka yabag. Pareho ra man nang animala.