THE Cebu City Government has impounded the two trucks involved in an accident that caused a monstrous traffic jam starting at the viaduct of the Cebu South Coastal Road. Mayor Tomas Osmeña, though, is not satisfied with that move. “I am considering penalizing a truck owner with fines and/or impounding based on every hour of traffic delay an accident of their causing makes,” he posted on Facebook.
The idea will have complications if implemented. Would that policy be implemented in all city streets and not just the coastal road? Would it involve only trucks and not any other kind of vehicles? How would every hour of traffic delay be counted? How much penalty would it be? Could the harsh penalty ensure that there would be fewer accidents like the one last Wednesday?
Imposing harsh penalties on traffic violators is different from doing the same on owners of vehicles involved in accidents. The first is willful while the second is not (who would want to die in a vehicular accident?). Also, it would be wrong to measure guilt on the number of hours an accident delays the traffic flow. Traffic delay can be caused by many other factors.
Regular commuters at the coastal road, notably in the portion where it traverses the South Road Properties (SRP) and the viaduct, know that the area is prone to traffic jams and delays caused not only by major accidents but also even by vehicles suffering from engine trouble. This became more so when the number of vehicles that use the road increased considerably.
That can’t be addressed by the mere imposition of harsh penalties. For City Hall, the focus must be on constructing more SRP entry and exit points. For the Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) the focus should be on the mapping of alternative routes and alternative traffic plan that would be implemented when traffic jams occur at the coastal road.
The traffic gridlock last Wednesday became worse because with every passing hour because nobody was quick enough to find ways to reroute the traffic away from the viaduct. And rerouting the traffic inside the SRP was difficult because the area does not have enough entry and exit points.