CEBU CITY –– She was 50 meters away from the Capitol.
But the traffic was almost a standstill that Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia got out of her vehicle and walked to the Capitol to make it to the 8 a.m. flag ceremony last Monday.
She arrived three minutes early.
In the afternoon, the Cebu Provincial Board (PB) declared a “traffic crisis” on the island amid long hours of the daily commute and land travel which local legislators believed to be of “public calamity magnitude.”
With road congestion now embedded in Cebuanos’ day-to-day life, the PB wanted the national government to fast-track the infrastructure projects that were supposed to address the growing traffic problem in Metro Cebu.
A separate resolution has also asked the House of Representatives to grant special powers to President Duterte to address the traffic situation in Cebu.
This resolution also highlighted the need to fast-track the proposed mass transportation projects in Cebu, including the Bus Rapid Transit and the train system.
Provincial Board Member Glenn Soco, who authored the resolution declaring a “traffic crisis” in Cebu, cited a Japan International Cooperation Agency study, which pegged the losses in Cebu at P1.1 billion per day because of traffic congestion.
While there were numerous infrastructure projects initiated by the government, Soco said these projects were moving at a “snail-pace.”
“With the alarming and depressing state of land transportation and its horrible effects to the public, there is a need to fast-track these vital projects, which may not automatically remedy the current situation but alleviate or improve the present state of land transportation in the very least,” said Soco in his resolution approved unanimously by the PB.
Soco, former president of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also said the Department of Public Works and Highways had adopted the JICA studies in 2015 and 2018, proposing a Metro Cebu Expressway Project.
But, he said the budgetary demands and fiscal allocations for the expressway were not enough for “speedy completion.”
With the declaration of a traffic crisis, Soco also wanted all sectors to start discussions and be involved in the formulation of solutions to the ongoing crisis.
While Governor Garcia supported the declaration of a “traffic crisis,” she said she would do away with the discussions and instead focus on some immediate remedial actions and “what can be done.”
During the recent Metro Cebu Development and Coordinating Board meeting, Garcia said she asked the Department of Public Works and Highways to start working on intersections in Metro Cebu where a roundabout can be installed instead of traffic lights.
Garcia said they have identified at least 20 intersections in the major highways connecting Metro Cebu towns and cities where a roundabout could be placed.
There were also areas where U-turn slots could be put up instead of roundabouts.
She cited the national highway in Minglanilla town, south Cebu where congestion was caused by the stoppage of vehicle flow because of the intersections.
“For me, it is illogical that you have to stop the entire movement in a national highway just to let a tricycle cross when they can very well do that if they go with the flow (as in roundabouts and U-turn slots),” Garcia said.
“This does not take billions in infrastructure nor will it take two years to implement, this can immediately be done. With the U-turn slots, it could be done immediately,” she added.
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