ROUGH CUTS|A decision has to be made now

TWO friends of ours confided to us their disgust with the Land Transportation  Office (LTO) over the long delay of the release of their replacement car plates and plate stickers.

We told them they are not alone; we too, are like them – waiting for over a year already.

Actually these friends of ours said that they had their vehicle registrations renewed first week of this month. And they paid for their replacement plates (the white plates) when they renewed their car registrations last year yet. Like us they were told to wait for months and the months have already evolved to one year and still no replacement plates have arrived.

We tried to appease their disgust with the LTO by telling them that our new plates could be among those produced by a foreign contractor which were shipped to the Philippines years back but which shipment had been impounded by the Bureau of Customs for the failure of the contractor to pay for the required Customs duties.

Our friends retorted that they were thinking the problem was already addressed after the assumption of President Rodrigo Duterte. And we told them that we assumed it was, too. We added that the possibility of the further delay in the release and distribution of the new plates to the regions is that there is still a pending case brought against the LTO as a consequence of questionable payment by the LTO to the contractor as discovered by the Commission on Audit (COA).

“Holy cow,” was all our friends could mutter.

Well, the new head of the LTO, Retired Gen. Edgar Galvante has a lot of things to do to cushion the impact of this issue which the LTO will be suffering, unfortunately, under his watch.

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We can understand Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio if she would want the city included among the areas to be covered by the authority of her father President Rodrigo Duterte when he will be given emergency powers by Congress to solve the burgeoning traffic problem in key cities of the country.

Every Tom, Dick and Harry who happened to have come to Davao City during peak hours may have already witnessed the monstrous vehicular traffic in all major streets of the metropolis.

During mornings from as early as 7 o’clock to 10; and from 4 p.m. to about 8 o’clock in the evening in such throroughfares as MacArthur Highway from Bangkerohan to Ulas, the J.P. Laurel HIghway from Hospital Avenue to Sasa, the whole stretch of C. P. Garcia Diversion Road from Ulas to Panacan, downtown streets such as from Magallanes starting from Bankerohan to C.M. Rector to Ramon Magsaysay up to the Sta. Ana Port area, the whole of Sta. Ana Ave. up to Leon Garcia, the whole of Monteverde st., from Quimpo Blvd. going north to Quezon Blvd. to Cabaguio Ave. or R. Castillo st. In Agdao, and from J.P. Laurel going to Buhangin Road – all these can already be classified as vehicular chokepoints that are wanting immediate government attention.

And considering the roads’ relative narrowness in width and the virtual occupation of almost every inch of its sides by various establishments, there is hardly anything that can be done to allow these thoroughfares to accommodate more vehicles. In fact we believe that even the present volume of vehicles using these roads are already well over their ideal capacity.

Hence, we believe that the most logical solution to the fast congesting of the city’s roads is the construction of new and wider roads that will allow certain types of vehicles to move out of routes that will pass the city’s urban areas.

And again we will go back to our recommendation that our city planners give priority to the construction of a new diversion highway or a coastal road to ensure that bigger vehicles transporting cargoes have new routes to take to their final destination. This way only private cars, passenger jeeps, taxi cabs and smaller cargo transport vehicles will be converging on the roads leading to the city’s downtown areas . Bus terminals must also be moved outside the city proper.

So, where will a Duterte emergency power in solving traffic problem come in if Mayor Sara’s wish is granted?

Well, it is a known experience in the history of implementing many infrastructure projects of government, especially major highways, that these are usually delayed by the difficulty in acquiring road right of way. Most land owners take advantage of the fact that if the project is undertaken by government they have better bargaining chips especially in property value determination.

They know that the government will be incurring additional cost when it moves to undertake the normal process of property acquisition from private owners. Thus most private land owners adopt a hardline position when it comes to the giving of road right of way, for financial consideration of course.

But with Davao City included in the coverage of the President’s emergency powers in addressing traffic problems private property owners, or even informal settlers occupying areas that would be traversed by new transportation infrastructures, will have second thoughts of even just attempting to derail such project using their government-granted rights to the property.

Indeed the manifestation of Mayor Inday is well placed. And it is not far-fetched that the same will be granted by Congress when it finally grants the emergency powers to the President.

To us though, and perhaps to the many Davaoenos, what is important is that the local government must already be definite what project or projects it intends to implement to arrest the burgeoning traffic problem of the city.

Procrastinating on making a decision could lead to the worsening of the traffic problem much faster than any one can imagine.

Posted in Opinion