Friday, September 20, 2019

Briones: Round 1: motorists

THE staring contest between motorists and commuters on one hand and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 on the other began last Monday.

They were waiting for who would blink first with regards to the repairs on the first Mandaue-Mactan bridge that were long overdue. These had been postponed because of Cebu’s hosting of two high-profile events. So when it was finally announced that these would push through, no one was surprised.

What the players didn’t expect was the outcome: a gridlock that stranded motorists and commuters for hours on end after the agency closed one lane of the bridge to vehicular traffic.

Monday was a holiday so the full effects of the first bridge’s repairs on traffic weren’t felt yet. Both players kept eye contact.

Then traffic that is expected to go down in history as the mother of all traffic horrors descended on them last Tuesday.

I read about Cebu City Vice Edgardo Labella’s first-hand “horrendous” experience as he accompanied one of his children to the airport. The trip, on any other given day, would have taken them less than an hour. But not last Tuesday; four excruciating hours spent crawling, creeping, inching their way to their destination.

The Labellas were not the only ones inconvenienced by the monstrous jam. Thousands of commuters had to grin and bear the dust from the unfinished road works that dot Mandaue City’s streets or breathe in the fumes from refurbished vehicles that we call public utility jeepneys and Jurassic trucks.

I’m sure many tempers flared that day. There may even have been unrecorded heated exchanges or punches traded because why else would the Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) deploy police officers to assist the city’s traffic enforcers?

Anyway, Senior Supt. Jonathan Cabal, MCPO officer-in-charge, said their “presence might ease tension of motorists irked by the heavy traffic. “

I knew I would be one of the tense motorists when I drove my parents to the airport yesterday morning. Any sense of decorum and decency I toss out of the car window as soon as I get behind the wheel. I hate to admit it, but I’m an a—hole on the road. That’s why I walk or take public transportation.

But I doubted my parents would agree to jog with me to the airport or hop on a cab when I could easily drive them there. So I made sure I heeded the advice of the airport’s private managers to leave for the airport three to four hours before their departure time so they wouldn’t miss their flight.

Their flight was 10:55 a.m. We left the house at 7. We got there at half past 7.

I had been too intent on making sure my parents wouldn’t miss their flight it was only while we were having breakfast at the hotel across the airport that it struck me, there was no “horrendous” traffic.

Apparently, the DPWH 7 blinked first, removing the barricade to allow two-way traffic on the first bridge until it comes up with a better idea. Motorists and commuters can heave a sigh of relief. Until the next round, that is.

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