Wenceslao: Coal-fired power plant in Cebu City

I AM one of those who have to put up with the traffic in Minglanilla town daily, notably at the corner of the national highway and the road towards Barangay Tungkil. I didn't write about this because I was hoping that the Minglanilla Municipal Government would be able to straighten up its act after the completion of the major road project by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) there and the setting up of digital traffic lights in strategic places of the highway.

I was therefore pleasantly surprised when I read the report in Sun.Star Cebu written by Justin K. Vestil that the Minglanilla Traffic Commission (Mitcom) is finally trying to be creative in solving the traffic problem specifically at the corner of the national highway and the Tungkil road. The report talked about an experimental traffic scheme, which is actually the scheduling of the entry and exit of trucks to and from Tungkil.

Apparently, Mitcom is blaming the use of the road by the trucks as the cause of the traffic gridlock in the area and not the operation of the digital traffic light. But many drivers I talked with said the flow of traffic in the area was smoother before the traffic light became functional. Unfortunately, I read an interview with Minglanilla Mayor Elanito Peña, who casually dismissed the suggestion that the traffic lights, specifically their setting, caused the problem.

As they say, the first step in solving a problem is to acknowledge that there is one. The mayor didn't acknowledge the problem with the way the clocks of those traffic lights, notably at the corner of the national highway and the Tungkil road, were setd. So how can the traffic problem be solved?

This problem does not only exist in Minglanilla but also in Talisay, notably the portion of the south coastal road that cuts through the city. Traffic flow in that area has slowed down and gridlocks often occur since the digital traffic lights were put up there.


When I heard of the plan of Ludo Power Corp. to put up a coal-fired power plant in Barangay Sawang Calero and of the Cebu City Council opening up to it via a public hearing, I was surprised. It turned out that environmentalists in Cebu were caught off-guard, too. Who would have thought that a coal-fired power plant would be envisioned in a thickly-populated area. And why the city council's openness?

I say this is turning out to be an interesting tug-of-war. While the city council, which earlier came up with a stand against the construction of coal-fired power plants, is softening up, Energy Secretary Zenaida Monsada was quoted as taking the cudgels for coal-fired power plants. Now LPC, through its community relations officer Nelson Yuvallos, is inviting environmentalists to be part of the project's control monitoring council.

It's a good suggestion but I doubt if environmentalists would accept the offer if they value their integrity. Doing so would mean they have accepted the logic of the project and ties them to the council's decisions. That would limit their ability to aggressively oppose the plan.

Interestingly, Yuvallos mouthed what I have been saying about allowing coal-fired power plants to operate: that they tend to follow regulations on environmental protection only in the early stages of their operation and violate these when public attention focuses elsewhere. “We don't want it to happen again,” was Yuvallos' vow, though.

But there is one question that I still want answered adequately: Why insist on putting up the coal-fired power plant in, of all places, a thickly populated area? Which is the overriding concern there, cost savings or public safety?

(khanwens@gmail.com/ twitter: @khanwens)
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