TRAFFIC WOES RESUME
AS THOUSANDS HEAD BACK TO THE CITY
Expect traffic gridlocks again in Metro Cebu now that the four-day Lenten vacation is over.
From the southern section of Cebu alone, an estimated 25,000 people boarded buses from their respective hometowns to head back to Cebu City between yesterday and today.
Heavy traffic gridlock was already experienced as early as yesterday in Minglanilla town, as the Sugat Kabanhawan Festival, which included street dancing, was held on the main road.
Joey Herrera, manager of the Cebu South Bus Terminal, said there were about 400 buses plying the Cebu City to southern Cebu routes and vice versa on any given day, most of which were delayed upon reaching Minglanilla yesterday.
“I am sure (the officials of) Minglanilla already planned on how to manage the traffic situation. But it is still expected that trips will be delayed given that the activities there happen on the main road,” said Herrera.
With the expected volume of passengers arriving at the CSBT yesterday (April 1), Herrera said that at least 30 uniformed policemen were deployed in the terminal the entire day following an eight-hour shift.
“We have the same security measures in place,” he told Cebu Daily News.
Chief Insp. Verniño Noserale, the police chief of Minglanilla, said at least 25,000 spectators attended the day-long festivities in the town.
Noserale said they closed the main road at 4:30 p.m. for the street dancing and reopened the road at 6:20 p.m.
The heaviest traffic situation was experienced from 5:15 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. where a long line of trapped vehicles can be seen from the boundaries of the cities of Naga and Talisay.
Julie Flores, president of Cebu Provincial Bus and Mini Bus Operators Cooperative, said most of the drivers are affected by the heavy traffic situation especially with the closure of the main road in Minglanilla.
“The traffic situation affects fuel consumption, the number of rounds that drivers can accomplish … It also makes them very exhausted,” he said in the Visayan language.
Meanwhile, officials from various transport agencies in Central Visayas maintained security operations the entire duration of the Holy Week to ensure the safety and security of passengers returning from the province after the religious observance.
Ahmed Cuizon, regional director of Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in Central Visayas (LTFRB-7), said they apprehended at least three unregistered vans on Sunday.
“As part of Holy Week-Oplan Byaheng Ayos 2018, our LTFRB-7 enforcers hunted down and impounded three colorum vans today (April 1),” Cuizon wrote on his Facebook page.
He said a personnel from LTFRB-7 acted as a decoy and caught one Toyota Grandia van and two Toyota Hi-Ace vans in Mandaue City, which were all loaded with passengers from Bogo City.
He said the apprehended vans were impounded while operators would be asked to pay a penalty of P200,000 and to serve a three-month suspension.
Last Thursday, LTFRB-7 personnel also apprehended two unregistered vehicles, a taxi and a van, in Cebu City. The owners will have to pay a fine of P120,000 and P200,000 respectively, Cuizon said.
Roadside inspections, which began on March 28, are still conducted on the highways to ensure the safety of travelers going to and from the countryside in northern and southern Cebu, according to Land Transportation Office Central Visayas (LTO-7) Director Victor Caindec.
“Our district heads have continued terminal and roadside operations since Wednesday until today (April 1),” Caindec said in text message to Cebu Daily News.
Caindec said LTO likewise deputized traffic police of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and personnel from PNP’s Highway Patrol Group (HPG) to enforce road safety rules and apprehend erring motorists.
Meanwhile, Senior Supt. Edgar Allan Okubo, director of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO), said the Holy Week observance has been generally peaceful, with hundreds of CPPO personnel spread out in key public areas in the province.
“Noting that more people will come from the south, we made sure that we assigned our personnel there to maintain police visibility,” said Okubo.
No untoward incidents have been reported, he said.
While the situation was hectic and busy at CSBT, scenes at the North Bus Terminal in Mandaue City was calm, except when buses from the northern Cebu provinces arrive.
Ana Pepito, a native of Sogod town, said the travel time from her hometown to Cebu City was uneventful as there was no traffic gridlock in areas where traffic congestion normally occurred, such as U.N. Avenue and Plaridel Street in Mandaue City.
There was no heavy traffic situation along the span of M.C. Briones Street between Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday, which was not the case on regular days. “It was actually a breath of fresh air. I wish it is like this every day. I would have wanted to stay longer in the province but I have to go back to the city as my work requires me to be here,” said Pepito, who works in an accounting office in Cebu City.
Call center agents such as Jovelyn Caber of Lapu-Lapu City did not experience a Holy Week break but she was grateful that travel time from her house to the Cebu I.T. Park in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City was reduced to one hour from the usual 2.5 hours.
“It was actually a weird experience to be sitting in a jeepney that rarely stops because of traffic. I guess this is my reward for not having a Holy Week break,” she said.
As work schedules go back to its regular routine today, student assistant Joevelon Pinay, 27, planned to take the bus yesterday (April 1), which would bring him from the municipality of Ronda to Cebu City, where he works as a student assistant in a university’s library.
But he failed to secure a spot in a bus because all of them were full. He decided to would take his chances early morning of today (Monday).
“Ang bus kay gikan sa Badian mao nga inig abot diri sa Ronda kay puno-puno na gihapon (The bus comes from Badian that is why all seats are occupied when it reaches Ronda) ,”said Pinay.
The southwestern towns of Ronda and Badian are 85 kilometers and 98 kilometers, respectively, from Cebu City.
Pinay said that if he could not get a bus ride by today, he would have to take a ride from a colorum jeepney, which charges P120 per passenger, or P42 more than P78 student fare collected by buses.
“No more discount if I take the colorum jeepneys but I have to take it so that I can go back to the city. There is no other choice,” he said.
Despite this annual travel woes, Pinay said he does not mind going home to Ronda every Holy Week to observe the religious activities with his family. /WITH CRIS EVERT LATO-RUFFOLO
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