After a two-year disruption to our daily lives due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are now back to our normal routines. Unfortunately, the traffic in Cebu City and neighboring cities has returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Cebu City’s traffic congestion is one of the city’s woes that Mayor Michael Rama is trying to address, but he has not declared “war” against it, just like what he has done on the problems of dengue and flooding. Rama’s war declarations must not be taken literally though.

Traffic congestion in Cebu City and in other parts of Metro Cebu exasperates motorists.

The traffic problem grows along with the population. As the population grows and the economy becomes increasingly vibrant, the traffic congestion also worsens because more people can afford to buy cars or motorcycles, but the size of Cebu City’s roads remains as it is.

On Wednesday morning (Feb. 1, 2023), I experienced the worst traffic since I transferred residence to Talamban, Cebu City. It took me an hour and 15 minutes to reach the court in Qimonda Building on Serging Osmeña Boulevard at North Reclamation Area in Cebu City. I had to send a message to the clerk of court that in the event that the case I was representing was called, she was aware that I was still on the road on the way to the court.

The drivers of other vehicles were likely also wondering what was happening on the road ahead. We were practically held up for about 30 minutes. The traffic started moving after I called someone at the Cebu City Transportation Office. It turned out nobody was manning the intersection because of the drizzle.

The dream of Mayor Rama to make Cebu City reach the Singapore-like status would be useless if the traffic problem is not addressed. I suggested in my column last week for the Cebu City Government to install a modern traffic lights system with artificial intelligence in all the intersections to reduce the manual traffic direction, which is less effective due to absences or laziness of some personnel.

The study of Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), in a news story on (April 5, 2018), states that the unsolved traffic congestion in Metro Cebu, which includes Cebu City, resulted in P1.1 billion in economic losses a day. The “Master Plan Study and Institutional Development on Urban Transport System in Metro Cebu” made by Jica was not implemented, allegedly due to politics. The study could have helped improve Metro Cebu’s and Cebu City’s worsening traffic.

According to the report, Jica has recommended the “mitigation measures for traffic bottlenecks” and to start with “less capital-intensive” projects to address the congestion in 20 intersections within Metro Cebu.

The second recommendation of Jica was to improve the area of traffic control through synchronized traffic signals and area-wide traffic control systems.

The third recommendation was “grade separation” or the construction of underpasses or flyovers, while the fourth was widening of roads.

The report further states that Jica’s study was taken up by the Regional Development Council in Central Visayas (RDC 7) during its meeting in April 2018.

What could have been the real reason or reasons that officials or leaders of local government units (LGUs) in Metro Cebu refused, if not ignored, the recommendations of Jica during the RDC 7 meeting?

Are there officials of the LGUs in Metro Cebu who are more interested in big ticket projects, like the underpass in Mambaling and the unfinished underpass in Mandaue City on UN Avenue, than less capital-intensive mitigation measures?