YESTERDAY marked the start of arrests for those caught violating the Anti-Jaywalking Ordinance of Davao City.
As of 1 p.m. Thursday, December 1, the Davao City Transport and Traffic Management Office (CTTMO) recorded a total of 189 violators. This just shows the no-nonsense stance of authorities who are bent on decongesting traffic on the city's streets and protecting pedestrians from accidents.
A four-hour community service and a fine of P200 await first-time violators. Other sanctions for repeat violators are still being finalized.
Implementing the arrests against jaywalking violators is a welcome respite as it also minimizes the headaches that the worsening traffic problem has caused each one of us.
While before, we could estimate a 10-minute trip or 15-minute trip to our respective destinations via public utility jeepneys, now there is no telling anymore. We are all at the mercy of this traffic mess brought about by different road repairs and the busy Christmas season.
This implementation also serves as a wake-up call for all pedestrians who at times think they own the roads and just cross whenever and wherever they wish, unmindful of the consequences.
Being in a hurry does not excuse anybody from crossing only on designated pedestrian lanes and pedestrian overpasses. This just takes discipline from all of us. We need to take full responsibility and abide with the traffic laws.
Dabawenyos are known for their discipline, what with all the landmark legislations that are already in effect. We have been known for our non-smoking ordinance, firecracker ban, and speed limit that are already being copied by other local government units in the country.
Jaywalking, then, will just be another bad habit easy to break if only we put our hearts into it. What is walking an extra mile or more minutes to reach a pedestrian lane or climbing up the pedestrian overpass, it will even help us lose extra pounds.
The arrests are but the start of a new beginning. We can't wait for a de ja vu of the "Hapsay Dalan" in the early 1990s when traffic law enforcement was strictest. Yellow boxes were designated as loading and unloading areas and any driver who does not follow this is penalized.
Pedestrians, too, can only cross on pedestrian lanes or pedestrian overpasses.
But then again, change must come from ourselves. We are all stakeholders in this traffic dilemma, we must do our part to make the traffic laws work.
For starters, pedestrians must use the pedestrian overpasses at Matina Crossing, McArthur Highway near the University of Mindanao (UM-Matina Campus), Bankerohan, J.P. Laurel Avenue, Lanang, and the flyover in Agdao, Davao City.
The law against jaywalking is in City Ordinance 778 also known as the Comprehensive Transport and Traffic Code of Davao City.
According to Poliquit, those who will be caught violating the ordinance will face a penalty of 4-hour community service and a fine of P200.
“We are still finalizing and reviewing the other sanctions under this ordinance,” Poliquit said.
Traffic law enforcement was strictest in the early 1990s when the program "Hapsay Dalan" was in full force. Yellow boxes were designated as loading and unloading areas and any driver who do not follow this is penalized.
Pedestrians, too, can only cross on pedestrian lanes or pedestrian overpasses. But implementation has since slackened and public utility drivers have lost the habit of loading and unloading only in yellow boxes and pedestrians cross the street wherever they want to, even right below the overpasses.
As a result, traffic gets even more congested. Faced with a worsening traffic situation, the City Government has revived the implementation of these simple traffic laws. Last November 15, the City Planning and Development Office started its experimental scheme of allowing passenger loading and unloading only on designated stops along A. Pichon Street or Magallanes Street.
The scheme is intended to train commuters to only wait in designated stops and not expect public utility vehicles (PUVs) to stop wherever they decide to wait.
Next to have designated stops are Gaisano Mall of Davao along J.P. Laurel Avenue (Bajada), Abreeza Ayala Mall, and NCCC Mall in Matina.
"Motuman lang ta, kay kaayohan ni nato, aron malikay ta sa disgrasya (Let's just obey the law, this is for our own good. It will reduce the risk of accidents)," Poliquit said.