THE Capitol is studying a proposal to create a Provincial Inter-Agency Council for Traffic Operations and Management to solve a lingering traffic problem in the province.
In a meeting with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) yesterday, provincial traffic czar Jonathan “Joy” Tumulak said that Provincial Board (PB) Member Edsel Galeos has sponsored a resolution that may be approved this month or the next.
The ordinance, Tumulak said, rests on Section 16 of Republic 7160, which empowers local government units (LGU) to “exercise the powers necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its efficient and effective governance,” which includes promoting the general welfare.
Also yesterday, a DPWH 7 official said that the agency will demolish all illegal structures along national highways to prepare for the implementation of projects next year under the Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.
Cebu’s local governments, especially in Metro Cebu, are under pressure to push for infrastructure or adopt better traffic management to shorten the trips that workers and other constituents have to endure each day, while the number of vehicles in Cebu keeps rising.
In his draft ordinance, Galeos mentioned a report of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) that Metro Cebu loses about P1.1 billion daily because of traffic congestion.
He also stated that the traffic, poorly planned and implemented infrastructure projects, incongruous traffic policies and enforcement, and lenient implementation of the law by key government agencies has contributed to traffic congestion.
The proposed council will have both advisory and implementing functions. If approved, it can also review the planning and enforcement of traffic rules.
First district first
“The creation of a composite team is considered immediate by the board members,” Tumulak said in yesterday’s meeting with DPWH which he had called for.
“We will give priority to the first district, and that would be followed by the north area because we are experiencing heavy traffic in Metro Cebu,” Tumulak said.
He added that operations against illegal structures and other obstructions on and along national highways will be done simultaneously in all towns and cities of Cebu’s first congressional district.
Traffic managers of all LGUs will help DPWH identify the violators, Tumulak said. DPWH will send notices of violation, and, after three notices, will operate against these obstructions.
Also yesterday, DPWH 7 Director Ador Canlas said the clearing operations will be part of preparations for Build, Build, Build, the Duterte administration’s ambitious infrastructure building program.
“We are already looking forward to seeing projects being implemented simultaneously in all parts of Cebu,” Canlas said.
Supt. Noberto Babagay of the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) said the agency will support DPWH in clearing illegal structures from major highways.
Canlas said that the agency will begin by going after obstructions to the road right-of-way, including illegally parked vehicles, illegal vendors and illegal structures, like those built on sidewalks.
Canlas recalled that DPWH conducted clearing operations in 2014 and 2015 but these were not sustained. To gain headway against traffic congestion, he said, the community needs engineering, enforcement, and education.
“We take part in engineering. Some agencies will do the enforcement like the PNP, LTO (Land Transportation Office), and the LGUs will do the education campaigns. Each of us would have several tasks that we need to perform and this is just one,” Canlas said.
He said the political will of the LGU officials, especially the mayors, is vital.