Traffic board wants to manage national roads

METRO Cebu’s worsening traffic situation has prompted the Provincial Traffic Management Board (PTMB) to seek control over national roads.

The development transpired during the traffic board’s second meeting held at the Capitol on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019.

“I have always been the proponent of allowing traffic to freely flow,” said Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia in an interview last Monday, Dec. 16.

It is possible for the PTMB to take control of the national thoroughfares that pass towns and component cities in the province, said Edgar Tabacon, director of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7.

Tabacon said the mandate of the DPWH is more on construction of roads, bridges and other infrastructures.

The responsibility for managing traffic belongs mainly to the local government units, said Tabacon.

During the PTMB’s meeting, Garcia reiterated the need to keep a free-flowing vehicular traffic, especially in intersections and the two bridges serving inter-island traffic between mainland Cebu and Mactan. She also stood pat on her move to disable traffic lights in some intersections, set up U-turn slots and establish flares and roundabouts as viable traffic solutions.

Mistrustful of the traffic lights’ effectiveness in solving traffic woes, Garcia sought the opinion of the Department of the Interior and Local Government-Cebu Director Jerome Gonzales on whether the traffic board can take control over national roads passing through the towns and component cities of the Province.

Gonzales said the responsibility of managing traffic falls upon the local chief executives.

Liloan Mayor and League of Municipalities in the Philippines (LMP) president Christina Garcia-Frasco, for her part, said the Province’s intervention in the “traffic crisis” that currently grips Cebu is a good development. Frasco is Garcia’s daughter.

“In Liloan, we have been implementing measures since 2016 to address our own traffic, but exiting our borders remains a burden for our residents and to those from the north. Being stuck in traffic for close to or over two hours each way is not normal and it is causing so much suffering among our people. Our mayors in the LMP are one in coming together with the Provincial Government to ease the people’s suffering,” she told SunStar Cebu in a text message on Friday, Dec. 20.

Last Oct. 14, traffic got so bad that Garcia and Provincial Board (PB) Member Jose Mari Salvador (second district) had to get out of their cars and walk to the Capitol compound to make it on time for the flag ceremony.

On that afternoon, the PB approved a resolution declaring a traffic crisis in Cebu Province and a separate resolution urging Congress to fast-track the passage and approval of “effective” measures to address traffic in Metro Cebu.

Last week, the governor found herself in yet another traffic jam in the vicinity of the Marcelo Fernan Bridge, which connects the cities of Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue. She told reporters that the traffic lights stalled the flow of vehicles for 180 seconds.

When the go signal came, it took just 10 seconds for vehicles to move before the flow was barred again after the traffic light reset to 180 seconds of its “programmed waiting time.”

The PTMB has also directed the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, Provincial Planning and Development Office and the Department of Public Works and Highways 7 to coordinate in inspecting the intersections from Liloan in the north to Minglanilla town in the south.

The traffic board’s move came in time for the holiday rush.

On Dec. 23, 2017, in what is now known as the “carmaggedon” of southern Cebu, motorists and commuters found themselves stuck for seven to 10 hours on the road due to several accidents that occurred in Talisay City and Minglanilla amid the Christmas rush of last-minute shoppers and people trying to get home to their hometowns. (RTF, WBS)