Metro Cebu Sans Cebu City
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña skips traffic summit intended to craft a unified traffic plan for Metro Cebu
Without the participation of the Cebu City Government, can Metro Cebu achieve its goal of having synchronized traffic laws as a means to address the worsening traffic congestion?
A traffic summit to be attended by mayors and officials from the towns and cities comprising Metro Cebu, representatives of different national government agencies, and urban development and traffic experts from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (Rafi), was held yesterday to talk about an integrated traffic plan to solve the traffic problem in Metro Cebu.
But Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña did not show up, putting plans for a unified traffic plan at a quandary.
Among the plans agreed on during the summit was to craft a unified traffic plan for Metro Cebu, reinforcing and strengthening existing traffic laws, and training traffic enforcers.
Osmeña, who withdrew Cebu City’s participation in the Metro Cebu Development Coordinating Board (MCDCB) in 2016, had earlier announced his refusal to participate in yesterday’s traffic summit which was organized by the Cebu Provincial Government.
“It’s a waste of time. I’m just making it clear — I don’t go under them (MCDCB). They cannot claim to be Mega Cebu without Cebu City,” said Osmeña.
The mayor also did not send any representatives to speak in behalf of Cebu City, the largest highly urbanized city among all the cities composing Metro Cebu, which are the cities of Danao, Lapu-Lapu, Talisay, Mandaue, Naga, and Carcar.
Metro Cebu also includes the muncipalities of San Fernando, Liloan, Consolacion, Minglanilla, Compostela and Cordova.
Except for Cebu City, all local government units (LGUs) in Metro Cebu were represented in the traffic summit.
Elected officials who attended the summit were included Mayors Christina Frasco (Liloan), Lakambini Reluya (San Fernando), and Teresa Alegado (Consolacion) and Vice Mayor Carlo Fortuna (Mandaue City). Traffic focal persons, consultants or officers from the executive departments spoke on behalf of the other LGUs.
But interestingly, most of them came in late, citing the monstrous traffic they had to endure to reach the Capitol Compound in Cebu City where the event was held.
The JICA earlier pegged losses in economic opportunities due to traffic at P1.1 billion a day for Metro Cebu.
This could still increase as the figure is just the initial amount the JICA study team calculated, based on initial results of their “Master Plan Study and Institutional Development on Urban Transport System in Metro Cebu.”
The amount is around one-third of the losses due to traffic in Manila which was pegged at P3.5 billion a day also by JICA last February.
During yesterday’s traffic summit, MCDCB Executive Director Evelyn Nacario – Castro said synchronized traffic regulation in Metro Cebu means providing a template for a unified traffic code for the different LGUs, national agencies and other stakeholders to follow.
This way, Castro said, traffic flow in over 1,393 kilometers of road-network, from Danao City in the north up to Carcar City in the south, will be manageable and therefore, will ease traffic bottlenecks in several areas.
“Ang atoa lang ani (Ours here) is the importance of bringing everyone together as things can actually be resolved if you put the concerns on the surface and at the same time you bring all the players together,” she said.
In coming up with the unified traffic plan, Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III, chairperson of the MCDCB, said LGUs will compare their own traffic ordinances to that of other cities and municipalities in Metro Cebu.
On the other hand, officials and experts who attended yesterday’s traffic summit expressed hope that Cebu City, even if its mayor is not keen on joining in any future events of the MCDCB, will align with the traffic plans they agreed on.
JICA Consultant Lynn Gloria Madrona, vice chairman of the Subcommittee on Transport Management of MCDCB, said they will still give Osmeña a copy of the summit’s workshop output.
“Hopefully Cebu City will consider crafting their own traffic laws that would coincide with our output today,” she said in Cebuano..
Sought for comment, Osmeña said he may comply with their request if he finds what was agreed on, ‘good’.
“I have to listen to all the bull**** they have to offer, okay? And if it’s good, it’s okay lang. If not, no way. By me joining that means I’m under them. S**** them. I’m not under them,” he said.
Osmeña insisted on the implementation of the P17-billion Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) instead, as Cebu City’s way of solving traffic.
“I have the BRT. But they blocked it, what can I do? They think they can get the BRT? They cannot get the BRT. They can promise an LRT, but where is the LRT?” he added.
For his part, Davide said he respected Osmeña’s decision not to join the traffic summit and added that they can come up with alternatives to help the traffic situation in Metro Cebu.
Representatives from the Land Transportation Office in Central Visayas (LTO-7), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in Central Visayas (LTFRB-7) and the Department of Tourism in Central Visayas (DOT–7) also attended the summit.
It was agreed that LGUs, together with the concerned government agencies, would reinforce or craft ordinances to put more teeth to existing traffic laws and regulations.
Illegal parking of private vehicles, uneven and narrow roads, obstructed sidewalks, lack of traffic signages and enforcers were identified as among the major contributors to the growing traffic congestion in Metro Cebu.
LTO-7 Assistant Regional Director Alita Pulga admitted that they are not apprehending traffic violators as often as needed. She said that if they do, it will become a “hide and seek” game between the law enforcement agencies and the violators.
The lack of traffic enforcers was also cited as another problem that contributed to the traffic problem in Metro Cebu. /with CNU Interns Lalaine Jurado and Bea Belle Redelosa
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