TALISAY City Mayor Eduardo Gullas was a long-time House of Representatives member representing the first district of Cebu province. Before his grandson took over the post years ago, Gullas had left various infrastructure projects in the district that he initiated either as part of the now discredited pork barrel (Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF) or via his lobby for their inclusion in the annual national budget.
Among those infra projects was the widening of the Cebu south road that traverses his district. Only few southerners would overlook it not only for the hassle the road work created to commuters but also because some portions of the south road had to be destroyed even if these were relatively newly built at that time. However, the noise died down when the road-widening project was completed.
I thought the completion of the project would make for smoother travel to the south. It did conjure comfort initially until the number of vehicles in the province grew by leaps and bounds. Who would have thought that in only a decade or two the wide south road had gotten narrow—at least in our perception now.
Actually, I was merely amused in the early years of traversing that route noting how, because the road has gotten wider, establishments and private vehicle owners already found it convenient to use both sides of the road as a parking area. That didn’t seem a problem in the early years, what with few vehicles using the road then. But not now when the south road is perceived to have gone narrow again.
The surfacing of traffic choke points soon necessitated intervention by local government units (LGUs), notably in the first district (Talisay, Minglanilla, to a certain extent Naga and San Fernando, and Carcar). Mostly designated as traffic control personnel were the barangay tanods and casual employees who didn’t have any background for the job. It was primitive but it sufficed early on. But not now.
Meanwhile, the mode of transport in component cities and towns include tricycles and, in the letter years, trisikads, and they continued to partly use the south road despite its widened state and the increase in the number of motor vehicles traversing there. In Tabunok, Talisay, for example, trisikad drivers swerve in front of SUVs with a smirk on their faces like they own the roads there.
Throughout all of these, the south road, widened or not, remains the only route towards the southern tip of the province and the Provincial Government and LGUs didn’t have the foresight and the determination to open alternative routes in case traffic gets jammed in the main route, notably when major activities are held, like fiestas or, in the case of last Sunday in Sangat, San Fernando, a motocross, is held and becomes a crowd drawer.
Gov. Hilario Davide III is intending to call for a meeting among concerned government agencies like the Land Transportation Office, LGUs and road users to address the traffic problems in Cebu province. It’s actually a move that is long overdue considering the changing traffic setup in Davide’s jurisdiction. I hope, though, that they would go beyond mere talk this time around.