THE street congestion that ensued Saturday afternoon to make way for the National Youth Day procession raised again the question–-Can Cebu afford to have road closures?
Cebu’s hosting of National Youth Day went without a hitch. The Church celebrated the successful event in masses Sunday with bishops thanking the participants and Cebu.
Before the event, there were prayers for a peaceful hosting after the recent attacks on Catholic churches in Sri Lanka and the warnings raised by local police. National police chief Oscar Albayalde had said terrorists behind the Sri Lanka bombings could seek refuge in other places anywhere in the world to escape arrest. The prayer was for no such violence to occur in Cebu. Our angels took care of that.
In the processions of the National Youth Day, there cropped up one concern, not at all religious – traffic. I was spared the road closure during the opening procession last Wednesday because I was at the office. But Saturday afternoon was when I ended up joining the multitudes who spent at least three hours on the road trying to find a way to go through the main access, the Osmeña Boulevard.
It was the pilgrims walk, a procession from the Capitol Grounds to the Cebu City Sports Complex, last Saturday. There were traffic enforcers on the main road but not on inside roads that other motorists went to, thinking the congestion would be less there. Wrong move. In Oprra in Barangay Kalunasan where some motorists went to avoid Osmeña Boulevard, traffic didn’t move until a resident or a good Samaritan went to the intersection to manage the flow of vehicles. Without an enforcer, there is this tendency to squeeze in even if it meant blocking the cars from the opposite direction.
Cebuanos understood the importance of the National Youth Day and what it meant to host such an event participated in by thousands of people. They understood there will be road congestion. But the question is raised again and every time there is a closure of a main street--Can Cebu afford to have a road closure?
Perhaps it is time authorities considered alternatives to the time the parades or processions are held and their routes on secondary roads parallel to the main street.
A dawn procession would be good. A parade through secondary road, rather than the primary road, would suffice unless it is the Sinulog and there was no way to accommodate hundreds of thousands elsewhere.
Five years ago, an afternoon procession or parade or even a bike run can be held in Cebu with minimal inconvenience to motorists with enforcers directing traffic. Not anymore now that the number of vehicles on the roads has increased dramatically.
These are matters organizers of huge events should start to consider when planning parades or processions. Hold it at dawn, try the secondary route, and make sure there are enforcers in smaller, alternative roads.
Cebu isn’t as it was five years ago.