Unimaginable speed

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By Gary Covington

Looking In

Monday, June 9, 2014


'DRIVERS, operators, slam driving competency test.'

Hold me up someone! Here's Charito Juranes, spokesperson for Davao's supposedly professional public utility drivers -- jeepney drivers -- maintaining that requiring its members to undertake driving competency assessment would make no difference, wouldn't 'substantially reduce accidents' involving jeepneys and, you know, the awful thing is, he's absolutely right. No matter how many lectures jeepney drivers are obliged to attend, no matter how many seminars, no matter how many behind-the-wheel practical tests, once loose from the LTO or Tesda they'd just carry on in the usual way. Like loons. Ignoring the rules of the road.Scattering pedestrians on crossings.Disregarding road courtesy.Driving as if they own the road.

I've forgotten, as a bicyclist, how many times I've been shoved into the kerb, forced to a halt, by a jeepney pulling abruptly over without looking in his side rear-view mirror. A few pesos fare put before the safety or lives of other road users. Car drivers often ask why bikers hog the crown of the road or stick to the central divider of dual carriageways and that's the reason - the kerbside lane is just too damn dangerous.

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Sorry Leo, no amount of tests or seminars or certificates will change the way our 'professional' jeepney drivers drive. The only solution is to get rid of jeepneys completely, replace them with a modern, efficient, mass transit system but that'll never happen, right? Not all the while the city is busy introducing cosmetic ordinances like the new and ridiculous street by street speed limits. They've done a survey. Seventy eight percent of Dabawenyos think the speed limit's a good idea. Pity they didn't ask - hand on heart, swear on your mother's grave - how many driving Dabawenyos actually abide by the new restrictions. I might be wrong but there appears to be only one speed trap radar thingy operated by the same tall guy and when he's about traffic is goody-goody. No obvious uniforms about? Vroom.

And it's silly anyway, all these different speeds for different streets. The 30 kph should be got rid of and a blanket 40 kph applied to all built up areas. I was amazed the other day to find the coastal highway down Sasa way -- heaving with crawling container trucks, pedestrians and pedal-powered tricycles -- to be 40 and not the new improved 30 kph. Why?

Another thing: tricycles, whether pedal powered or motorised, should be kept off the city's streets altogether. Look at Veloso Street in Obrero -- busy and getting busier now that there's access from the nearby huge mall/hotel complex and yet traffic moves at the pace of the slowest -
pedal-powered tricycles. Or Quezon Boulevard. Any day, any time of day, there are people-powered tricycles on the northbound carriageway pedalling southwards against the flow of traffic and, oh look, isn't that the Magsaysay police precinct 50 meters away? Tricycles of whatever breed should be confined to subdivisions only. Finish.

In Friday's 'paper, hidden away in the hope we wouldn't notice, an outfit called the World Startup Report commented 'that the Philippines needs huge improvement in its internet connectivity' and that when it came to internet delivery speeds our monolithic communications companies, bless their profits, could only manage the bottom piss-poor end of near two hundred countries surveyed.

An average download speed of two megabits per second in the Philippines, said the report. Two mbps? Unimaginable speed. Up here at Buhangin Meadows, courtesy of SmartBro (Globe's no better), we're lucky to get 15 kbps (kilobits per second) and weekends nothing at all. Cannot connect. Cannot connect. Cannot connect.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 10, 2014.

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