‘VERY VERY VERY BAD’
Exporters want Bureau of Customs to operate 24/7
With the resumption of classes and work today, exporters operating in Mandaue City and on Mactan Island expect traffic to be “very, very, very bad.”
How bad the congestion is going to affect factory operations and productivity is still anyone’s guess, though.
“We don’t know yet how we will be affected. Traffic was already very bad even without the repairs (of the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge). It will be very, very, very bad this time,” Porferio “Dodon” Montesclaros, secretary of the Mactan Export Processing Zone Chamber of Exporters and Manufacturers, told Cebu Daily News.
The traffic congestion in Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu cities – caused by the partial closure of the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge as well as the road works on A. Soriano Avenue and Plaridel Street in Mandaue City – is seen to take a toll on the export sector, whose sales have been declining because of a weak global demand since last year.
Jewelry exporter Apolinar “Allan” Suarez, Jr., chairman of Philexport Cebu, said workers at the three manufacturing economic zones in Mactan who reside in mainland Cebu would be the most affected.
“(It’s) frustrating! Tomorrow (Tuesday) will be worse when school opens,” Suarez said in a text message to CDN.
Three of the seven manufacturing ecozones in Cebu are in Mactan, namely the government-owned Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ)I, Aboitizland-run MEZ II and the Cebu Light Industrial Park of the Science Park of the Philippines.
They host about 200 manufacturing companies with a combined workforce of more than 80,000.
Montesclaros said a large number of these workers would need to cross the bridge to get to work. They work in shifts 24 hours a day for seven days a week (24/7).
“Before the repairs, it took at least two hours to travel between Lapu-Lapu City and Cebu City. With the repairs, it will be worse,” Montesclaros said.
Both the MEPZ chamber and Philexport Cebu have yet to discuss what they can do to survive the next five months, the minimum duration of the bridge repair project.
But offhand, Montesclaros suggested that the Bureau of Customs assign personnel at the Cebu International Port (CIP) 24/7 to facilitate shipments that might arrive at the port late at night or at dawn.
“With the traffic plus the truck ban, it might be more efficient if we schedule our shipments at night. CIP and Opascor (Oriental Port and Allied Services Corp.), which load and unload the containers, already operate 24/7. The problem is Customs,” he said.
Newly appointed Customs Cebu District Collector Rico Rey “Koko” Holganza is reportedly willing to hear suggestions from the business community.
“He (Holganza) said that with the new traffic situation, we should meet again to discuss the problem,” Montesclaros said.
Traffic was light in the two cities yesterday because of the Chinese New Year holiday.
Authorities also expect the worst today.
Glenn Antigua, operations chief of the Traffic Enforcement Agency of Mandaue (TEAM), said students and workers should leave for school or work much earlier than usual so they won’t be late.
NO TRUCK BAN EXTENSION
In a phone interview, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes assured members of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry that the truck ban would not be extended.
“Ang hangyo lang nato sa mga (We would like to plead to) businessmen and truckers, if they don’t have any businesses in Plaridel Street, they should avoid it and instead pass by M.C. Briones Street. Para dili compounded atong Plaridel Street,” Cortes told CDN.
Trucks are not allowed in city streets from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 5 p.m. and 8 p.m daily.
On suggestions to shorten classes, Cortes said the decision lies with the Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education.
It’s not for the city government to decide, he said. But he was amenable to the idea if it would help decongest traffic, he added.
“Dili nato masayon-sayon nga mouyon ta (It’s not that easy to agree to this). Lisod kaayo (It’s difficult). It’s not that it’s only good for the businesses but how about the students? The riding public? We should do something para sa kadaghanan (for the general welfare),” Cortes said.
The mayor will meet with DepEd, MCCI and TEAM within this week to discuss possible solutions to the traffic congestion.
Among the schools that are affected is the University of Cebu Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue (UC-LM) campus, which is located along the access road to the first bridge.
Students coming from Lapu-Lapu City would have to take a longer route through the Marcelo Fernan Bridge to get to school.
Atty. Augusto W. Go, school president, said there’s nothing they can do.
“We cannot do anything about it since it’s the government’s decision. As far as I’m concerned, I cannot just stop the repair since it’s for the welfare of everybody,” he said.
There were diversion roads in Mandaue City for motorists from northern Cebu or Lapu-Lapu City who are headed to Cebu City, said Antigua.
Aside from the zipper lane or counter-flow traffic scheme that TEAM implemented in J.P. Rizal Street to M.C. Briones to mitigate traffic flow in UN Avenue, Burgos St. is also open to vehicles coming from northern Cebu.
“If maghuot sa Plaridel St., if gikan sila sa Tita Gwapa (Plaridel St.) pwede sila mo right turn (to P. Ouano Street), then mosud sa Burgos Street. One-way man pwede makasud diha padung Cebu City,” he said. (If Burgos Street is also congested, motorists can take B.B. Cabahug)
In Lapu-Lapu, traffic is expected to be heavy in the vicinity of the public market and in Barangay Basak because all vehicles coming will be headed toward the Marcelo Fernan Bridge, said City Traffic Management System (CTMS) head Frank Brazil.
Vehicles bound for the Lapu-Lapu public market and the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) can take the Matumbo Road if M.L. Quezon Street would be congested.
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