CEBU officials and the business community welcomed the passage of House Bill (HB) 6425, which would grant emergency powers to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for three years to address the traffic congestion in Manila, Cebu and Davao.
Traffic in Cebu, after all, has become an emergency case, said Joy Tumulak, Capitol’s focal person on traffic management, indicating his approval of the bill that he considers the first step to solving Cebu’s traffic woes.
It doesn’t matter that the implication of the bill is that local government units’ regulatory powers will be clipped.
Mandaue City Vice Mayor Carlo Fortuna even went as far as suggesting that the National Government also take the lead in terms of infrastructure projects related to traffic management.
“I hope the powers will not only include enforcement of traffic laws but expediting the much needed traffic and transportation infrastructure. The latter is critical in addressing the problem,” said Fortuna in a text message to Superbalita Cebu.
Fortuna hopes that President Rodrigo Duterte will support the establishment of the Metro Cebu Traffic Management Board. He said officials of Cebu City, Mandaue City, Lapu-Lapu City and Capitol have started discussing the creation of the board.
But HB 6425 provides for the creation of the Cebu Traffic Coordinating Council as the sole central authority for land-based traffic in Cebu.
Mandaue City Mayor Luigi Quisumbing said the local and national governments should work together in solving traffic problems in major cities.
On the part of the business community, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) president Antonio Chiu said the implementation of the bill is expected to usher more order among vehicles on the road.
“Anything that will strengthen traffic enforcement is welcome. You know, our problem in Cebu is the lack of it. And you see chaos on the streets; nobody is respecting rules and regulations,” Chiu said.
Robert Go, president of the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA-Cebu), said with the approval of the bill, traffic rules in the whole Metro Cebu will be uniform and will help businesses during their daily transport operations.
“It has been noted that the traffic rules in Mandaue, Cebu, Talisay and Lapu-Lapu are all different. When a certain stretch (street) has a smooth flow, it’s not the same when (traffic) reaches a different city. A holistic view and plan are better when the agency addresses traffic as a whole and with a concentrated effort. Uniformity of policy will solve the traffic better,” said Go.
He added that losses caused by traffic translate to higher prices of consumer goods.
“It has been proven that traffic causes man-hour losses... Trucks (stuck) on the roads mean more gasoline, more idle manpower, and stocks are not getting delivered,” he said.
For her part, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza hopes that the commuters and motorists will be disciplined when the DOTr starts to enforce traffic laws.
Last Monday, Dec. 3, the Lower House, voting 188-8, passed on third and final reading HB 6425.
The bill gives the DOTr chief, as the alter ego of President Rodrigo Duterte, emergency powers to address traffic congestion for a period of three years unless sooner withdrawn by Congress. But to prevent a future traffic crisis, the measure mandates that some strategies and mechanisms shall remain effective even after the Traffic Crisis Act expires.
Cebu City Transportation Office chief of operation Francisco “Isko” Ouano, for his part, recommended the banning of private cars over a certain period during weekdays.
Ouano is also mulling the extension of the truck ban in Cebu City once the emergency power is granted to the DOTr to solve the horrendous traffic in the city.
Ouano said the City’s priority is the children, who go to school from Monday to Friday, and employees to get to work on time.
Private vehicles are contributory to traffic congestion. By banning them over a particular time, he said, the number of vehicles passing major thoroughfares will decrease, speeding up travel for vehicles. (JOB & from PAC, AZLG, FMD of SuperBalita Cebu/KAL)