Of traffic

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By Erma M. Cuizon

Sun.Star Essay

Saturday, July 19, 2014


IT TOOK me an hour to reach the office aboard a cab along P. del Rosario St. from Oprra village during PNoy’s visit here celebrating Edsa 1 in February at the Capitol because the traffic crawled. An officemate, who now and then would take the same route from the Capitol site to P. del Rosario on foot when it’s difficult to get a ride, took almost half an hour to reach the work place. It would probably take me a complete hour to walk down to the office from behind the Capitol.

The longest time I was stuck up in a traffic snag, believe it or not, was off New York City on our way to New Jersey years ago. The traffic stopped for about an hour. There was a motor accident way ahead of us and we got stuck up. There was even time for the drivers of the vehicles next to us, including my friend, to get out of the car and stretch a bit, then walk forward to try to see what was causing the clog up way ahead.

After more than 20 minutes, we saw a helicopter fly out from the crash scene, surely to carry the injured out and away to the nearest hospital. It took more time to clear up the path, a traffic truck was trying to get in and connect in order to clean up the mess and the heartache.

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But the snag was caused by an accident while what we have here are traffic problems that only need a closer look into. Many drivers and commuters are complaining about the no-left turn signals, as I got it from all the cabbies whom I deal with most of the day as a regular commuter.

There was a time in the past of human community when the carriage ways were drawn by animals like carabaos and horses or hand-pulled by humans, even as footways filled up the carriage ways, perhaps giving way to early traffic problems in ancient cities.

There was a time in Cebu when life wasn’t spoiled by bad traffic.

During my college days, I used to come in from the airport in summer early at dawn aboard Manila-Cebu flights because it was discounted. In the ‘60s, most of Cebu in the early morning was still asleep and quiet, the streets almost empty, I thought I heard soft snoring somewhere at the beginning of the day.

City life was without the traffic problem, it was a different day. There was even time at noon for workers to go home for lunch. You’d have the chance for a nap before going back to work.

Today, that hour for a nap at home has been taken away by bad traffic. You stay awake up to early dawn and hear motorcycle purring somewhere, waiting to give service to early birds who want to go to office ahead of the traffic trap.

The traffic problem today is bumper to bumper, especially when it floods somewhere in the city or in normal days from 7 o’clock to 9 in the morning, then from 5 in the afternoon to 7 o’clock in the early evening.

Congestion is mostly in the streets of Colon, Juan Luna, Osmeña Blvd. and Escario St., in roads in and near the malls and in the Ban-Tal area.

Much earlier, there was the carabao and the walk which enabled man to move from place to place. Then the carriages pulled by horses came into our life. But motor-driven vehicles overwhelmed the old familiar tartanilla service which was then the king of the road in all those years.

I was with the family in the car somewhere in the south of the city some years ago where we were in a street where tartanillas were allowed even while they were prohibited in busier roads. The family driver was pushing on the car slowly beside a tartanilla but the horse suddenly went wild, refusing to move ahead, instead moving as though to stand up then hit the front of the car to its side as the driver stepped on the brake. The horse hit its head and stayed quiet for a while just before getting back and moving away from us. Inside the car, we were silent. Then Mother asked as she looked back to the horse when the car moved on, “Is he all right?”

The motorized vehicle is now king of the road, how’s life in the traffic jam?

(ecuizon@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 20, 2014.

Opinion

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