Road users-A A +A
Friday, August 10, 2012
IT’S still August but we can get a whiff not just of the Yuletide season but the forthcoming local elections. It would be tempting to dismiss political noises coming from erstwhile political allies.
I'm not a fan of US conservative politician Newt Gingrich but he said something interesting about politics. Said Gingrich, "What is the primary purpose of a political leader? To build a majority. If voters care about parking lots, then talk about parking lots."
Here in Bacolod, people-both passengers and drivers-care about highways. Acting Bacolod City Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson is obviously building a minority of voters for the opposing side by talking about roads.
Sayson criticized the Department of Public Works and Highways for non coordination on the reconstruction of the Circumferential Road near the city's government center.
A feint in the east, attack in the west, so goes a Sun Tzu axiom in his Art of War. Criticize ostensibly DPWH and hit the real target, Congressman Anthony Gólez. A national highway, the DPWH funding for its road repairs come Gólez's pork barrel.
But maybe it's not totally a case of political smoke-and-mirrors of a Truman truism that "if you can't convince 'em, confuse 'em." The Circumferential Road does have real issues from both sides of the political road, so to speak.
Sayson complains of non-coordination, a valid concern even for the Circumferential Road. The ensuing traffic, however, is the responsibility of the local government.
On the other hand, taxis and other car drivers complain of that potholed road. I commiserate with them. The Circumferential Road undergoes literally annual rites of passage of potholes and road repairs.
As most people know, potholes can damage car suspensions, steering components as well as tires and rims. Bump over uneven surfaces, and the resulting shocks travel from the tire and wheel directly to the shock absorber. I wouldn't be surprised if cars that drive along that road on a regular basis would also frequent car repair shops.
Potholes form when moisture seeps below the surface of the roads. The moisture expands or heats up and contracts, applying stress on the concrete road. As the weight of vehicles continuously drive over these areas, small pieces of the concrete are chipped away.
The chain reaction is that where there's more traffic on the road, the more and faster the chipping and increase in pothole sizes-and the greater the stress and damage on vehicles.
Why then are there more potholes along Circumferential Road than other Bacolod concrete roads compared with other busier city streets, say, along the Ramos-BS Aquino Drive or Burgos Street?
Blame it on those de-kargas carrying tons of sugarcane who ply what probably can be called the Circumvention Road. I heard stories from the locals and coffee shop talks that many of these trucks which pole vault to sugar centrals outside of their milling districts.
"Road users are entitled to the services they pay in terms of smoother, faster, and more convenient travel and road safety," said DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson early this year.
Are these de-kargas paying Motor Vehicle User's Charges (MVUC), otherwise known as road users' tax? Or are they get equal use rights with the Circumferential Road?
If so, road use is discriminatory against those who tend to conserve the road more. Owners of these de-kargas are getting a free ride from smoother, faster, and more convenient travel even while they make mincemeat of the national highway. Is City Hall regulating its use against those who damage the road?
If not, our local government is discriminating against the taxpayers who end up subsidizing the mess on our roads created by irresponsible vehicle owners.
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 10, 2012.