OUR roads are narrow, always have been. On the other hand, the number of vehicles plying these roads has soared over the years. That is why we’re seeing traffic jams occurring everywhere.
When I was a younger lawyer, it took me less than ten minutes to drive from my place in Sambag 1 to the Provincial Capitol to attend to my court hearings. These days, I would be lucky if I could travel half the distance to dyCM in Fuente Osmeña in the same number of minutes.
It therefore does not take rocket science to know that when you close half the width of a road that already cannot accommodate traveling vehicles when fully open, traffic congestion is as inevitable as flooding after a moderate to heavy rain.
Road-sharing is a noble concept. Indeed, it is unfair, to say the least, that only a very small percentage of the population monopolize the use of our streets, leaving the rest effectively marginalized. The roads are made for everyone– car owner and pedestrian alike.
Last Sunday, we did another dry-run on road-sharing. Apparently, like its two predecessors, the Green Loop was not a whooping success. Instead of raising public consciousness on the idea of equal access to the roads, the experiment only rekindled old resentments and heightened tensions between the organizers and disgruntled motorists.
The organizers would be committing a very serious mistake if they dismiss the grumblings as the result of people not wanting to give up their privileged positions.
Those who were inconvenienced by the massive buildup of traffic in the half-closed streets were not just private car owners but also included the public utility drivers.
Unlike those who gaily strolled the streets for the exercise and in merry-making, the drivers were there to bring food to the table. Whose needs are paramount: those of the leisure-seeker or the wage-earner?
As important as the sharing itself is the sufficiency of the thing to be shared. And here, I think, lies the Green Loop’s and, before it, the Road Rev’s problem: there is simply not enough space to share because, as I pointed out earlier, our roads are narrow. Unless these are expanded, one’s share of its use has to be sacrificed in favor of the other. Whose?
By the way, organizers and traffic officials who oversaw the Green Loop were one in saying that there was a need for more discipline from every road user. But they also expressed satisfaction that no untoward incident occurred throughout the duration of the experiment.
That is quite a feat, I must agree, but how soon can patience and amity last in the presence of frayed nerves and boiling tempers?
And by the way, I read that public utility drivers are staging a strike today. They will be joined by passenger bus, jeepney and taxi operators in protesting the imposition of the new schedule of fines for traffic violations.
They claim that the fines are too stiff and therefore, oppressive. That may be so but the Land Transportation Office (LTO) does not collect them without cause. It is only when a violation occurs that a fine is slapped either on the driver or the operator.
I sympathize with the drivers but everyone has to be held accountable for what he does or fails to do. For decades, erring drivers and operators get nothing more than a slap on the wrist for violating traffic laws or the conditions of their franchises. Look what the practice has brought us.
The only way to compel the owners and the drivers to follow what the law says is to hit them where it hurts when they don’t. And it hurts the most in the pocket.