By: Doris Mae Mondragon January 24,2018 - 10:35 PM

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña wants to impound for 30 days counterflowing vehicles, like this one seen along the heavily congested A.
Soriano Street at the North Reclamation Area in Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City, on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018.

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña plans to draft an executive order (EO) that will direct traffic enforcers in the city to impound all vehicles, including motorcycles, that will be caught counterflowing in the streets.

The mayor, in a post on his Facebook page yesterday, said that vehicles that will be caught counterflowing will be impounded for 30 days.

The mayor’s pronouncement came amid a rising public concern over the worsening traffic condition in Cebu City and its neighboring areas in Metro Cebu.

The traffic congestion, which has been occurring in Cebu City even during the so-called non-peak hours, has been exacerbated by drivers, commuters and pedestrians who do not follow traffic rules. Counterflowing, or cutting on the queue of vehicles by driving into the traffic that flows in the opposite direction, has been considered as one of the problems that have added to the traffic woes in the city.

“Effective immediately: all vehicles (including motorcycles) caught counterflowing will be impounded for 30 days. There will be no early releases,” read the mayor’s post.

It’s about time

Cebu City Transportation Office chief Francisco Ouano, reached for comment yesterday, said that Osmeña called him yesterday to inform him of the mayor’s directive.

Osmeña was in Manila yesterday to attend the House of Representative’s committee on transportation hearing with regards to the regulation of motorcycle-for-hire or habal-habal, specifically on allowing the operation of Angkas, a motorcycle-for-hire Internet application, which was earlier ordered suspended by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Ouano said they were only waiting for the mayor to formalize his directive into an EO, and they would immediately enforce it.

“Nalipay ta nga at least nakita ni mayor nga kaning atong ordinansa karon, kaning sa city citation ticket nato nga way bukog, which is sometimes kung dakopon nato, gision ra or sometimes kumuton ra sa atong atobangan. Pero karon gumikan sa EO maka-implement na ta og insakto,” Ouano said.

(I am happy that the mayor is going to do this because our existing ordinance, which allows us to issue citation tickets, has no bones. Sometimes, the persons we apprehended would crumple or even tear into pieces the tickets that we issued right in our faces. With the EO, we can correctly implement the traffic rules.)

According to Ouano, a number of vehicular accidents in the city had been attributed to counterflowing vehicles. The EO, he added, would be instill discipline among motorists, regardless of the type of vehicle they were driving, including motorcycles.

At present, he said, CCTO enforcers could only issue citations to drivers who would counterflow in violation of City Ordinance 801, otherwise known as the Traffic Code of Cebu City.

Dealing with violators

Violators have, on the other hand, been playing hide and seek with traffic enforcers since there are only three to five enforcers deployed in each of the major thoroughfare in the city.

Cebu City has 278 traffic enforcers deployed in three shifts – 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., 2 p.m to 10 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

“If there are 20 vehicles that will counterflow and even if we only have three to five enforcers, we will apprehend as many as we can. Those who are able to escape from us will most likely inform the other drivers that we are serious in getting them arrested and having their vehicles impounded. They will now think twice about counterflowing,” he told Cebu Daily News in Cebuano.

Ouano said that once the EO is in effect, he assured they would have enough personnel to do the job.

He said the CCTO also has eight patrol cars, each manned by three personnel, that can enforcers traffic laws with the city, with the help of Alpha Task Force, a group of volunteer traffic enforcers.

“Ang atong tumong ug tuyo ana, si Mayor dili sya concern about sa penalties nga very minimal which is P500 ang iya ra is to save lives ug pag disciplina sa mga drivers,” Ouano said.

(Our intention is clear. The mayor is not concerned about the penalty, which at P500 is minimal, but to ensure that lives are saved if we instill discipline among drivers)

But Ouano also stressed that while the traffic citation ticket only costs P500, the apprehended driver will not have to deal with losing use of is vehicle for 30 days but he/she will also have to pay the city an impounding fee for the storage of their impounded vehicles.

He said the plan is to impose a storage fee of P100 per day for motorcycles and P300 per day for cars and other four-wheel vehicles. Trucks will be charged P500 per day, he said.

He said the impounded vehicles will be placed in their impounding area at the South Road Properties.

At present, the impounding area houses vehicles that were clamped for violating parking rules.

Ease traffic congestion

Councilor Dave Tumulak, the deputy mayor on police matters and chair of the City Council’s committee on police, said the executive order will help reduce the congestion in the streets.

He said the EO is one way of addressing traffic congestion, as there are vehicles, mostly motorcycles that have made it habit to counterflow, delaying cars and other vehicles that comply with traffic regulations by staying on their right lanes.

Reducing traffic congestion is a major goal of the city government, he said, particularly since a smooth traffic flow is important, especially during emergency situations when ambulances or firetrucks have to reach to their destinations as quickly as possible.

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TAGS: city, COUNTER-FLOWING, impound, officers, Osmeña, traffic, vehicles

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