On CDO traffic

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By Tibs Palasan, Jr

Spark of Law

Thursday, March 6, 2014

THERE is now one so obvious in our city streets: traffic enforcement.

The streets are clearly marked with traffic signs. The traffic enforcers are all over the city streets. Citations are being issued. Cars violating “no parking areas” are being towed. Pedestrians are not spared. The city government is dead serious with de-clogging congestion in our streets.

This is a welcome change.


But any change for that matter invites criticisms. Old habits die hard. Passengers demand from drivers that they be drop-off at their verandas if possible. Loading and unloading signs are disregarded. Pedestrian lanes are not used. Even the overpass, something which the government spent substantial amount to prevent the public from being run-over by speeding cars, is covered with moss due to being unused.

Resentment to change is ever present. Yet for so long a time, we have been complaining about the traffic mess in the city. We gripe, we curse, we murmur, and when the city officials act on our complaints, we curse even more.

True, old habits die hard, but in the tomb these habits must be put and rest permanently. We have to adapt to changes, if we have to move forward, if we expect to clean the city streets.

Discipline, this was the mantra of then President Marcos when he envisioned a new society. “Sa ikaunlad nang bayan, disiplina ang kailangan.” The slogan rings of the martial regime. Yet, it is true then, and should be true now. The traffic mess cannot be attributed only to the rising number of cars, the undisciplined drivers, the corrupt traffic enforcers, but to the public as well. Discipline is demanded of everyone.

All sectors converge in the city streets. Rich and poor, driver and passenger, public official and civilian, soldier and rebel, we all rub elbows in the streets. We may not know each other, but we are bound with the commonality of having the same streets we use.

Solving the traffic issues is not a one-sided affair. It is not the city officials’ alone to solve. The public too must participate. There must too be a convergence of all sectors to solve the traffic mess.

True, old habits die hard. But we must kill habits that are bad. We must stop parking at no parking areas. We must not race with cars as we cross the streets not designated as pedestrian lanes. We must not curse the drivers if he refuses to drop us off in the “No loading and unloading areas.”

All we need is discipline. Practice following traffic signs. Repeated obedience to traffic rules becomes our discipline. Overtime, we will not follow traffic rules out of fear of penalties and citation tickets. Obeying rules becomes our character. In generations to come, our character is passed on to the next generation us something part of our culture.

Of course, the traffic rules that we have now is far from perfect.

Traffic officials must not be onion-skinned. Criticisms must be listened too, and not taken as an affront to egos. Traffic plan is tested not at the drawing boards but at the streets. Where the plan is found defective as it is implemented, that too must be modified, if not discarded. Only the fool and arrogant will rigidly stick to a plan that has been found flawed in daily traffic experience.

Around Divisoria is a four-lane street; more, it is one-way traffic. Yet, parking is only allowed at the leftmost side of the road, leaving three lanes open for commuters. Now, it is a sight to behold, with less number of cars at any given time. But the truth is that drivers have to circle around Divisoria several times to find parking space, only to park at the side streets nearby. The cars cause congestion at the intersections of Divisoria.

By limiting the parking area at Divisoria, you are actually transferring congestion at the two-lane streets. You solve one problem, but transfer it to another area.

But that is not a reason to disobey traffic rules. We have to start with discipline, after discipline, comes assertiveness. We must point to the city officials the flaws of their traffic implementation. Criticize them with their lack of expertise in traffic management and engineering. Expose and ridicule traffic enforcers who are corrupt. Shame them in public.

After all, we are all stakeholders our city streets. We converge daily in the streets. It is but fitting that we should all be concerned.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 07, 2014.


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