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Rough Cuts | Where have all the traffic experts gone?

Again we were in downtown Davao City last Monday to do some important things needed to keep us afloat while the general community quarantine (GCQ) is still in effect.

We are actually isolating ourselves in our rural residence some 31 kilometers away from the city proper. Unfortunately for us we now belong to the sector considered most vulnerable to infection of the deadly coronavirus disease (CoViD 19) being among the millions of Filipinos in their senior years. So, even if we are still working to sustain our keeps, we have to limit our trips to the city’s downtown to submit our daily column for this newspaper. In other words, we are also trying to refrain from continuously using our privilege as media practitioners to escape stringent movement restrictions in this time of the CoViD pandemic.

But even as almost the entire country is already placed by the government under the GCQ from the previous extremely restrictive Enhance Community Quarantine (ECQ), still mass movement of people is restricted. This is because of the fear of the government that a new wave of infection could occur if we are allowed to go back to our previous ways of unrestrained socializing.

One measure that the authorities have adopted to ensure that there is “forced” compliance of the “Stay Safe, Stay at Home” mandate, the number of public transport allowed to operate still remains controlled. Thus, the expectation of many Davaoenos is that city roads remain relatively at “ease” level for people allowed to travel now that most industries and businesses are back in operation. And if we have to add the fact that the number of returning workers is still to increase gradually, then the more that traffic-free roads in the city’s urban center is expected for a longer period.

But during the past two weeks of the GCQ in the city, the road scenario was totally the opposite. Of the two times that we were able to come to this paper’s editorial office to pick up some documents, or go to our downtown residence to electronically send our column pieces, we were aghast at the humongous vehicular traffic prevailing on at least two main entry and exit highways. We are referring to MacArthur National Highway and Quimpo Blvd. Then, last Monday we were also surprised to get ourselves stocked up for almost 30 minutes at the Mintal road specifically at the section leading to the junction of Tacunan and Catalunan Grande roads. And even in Catalunan Grande, vehicle lines reached as long as one kilometer starting from SGR subdivision up to the market area. Still, there was another very long line of vehicles starting from the quarantine checkpoint near the St. Francis Xavier Seminary down to the junction of the diversion road in Bangkal. The Catalunan bedlam however, is forgivable as there is an ongoing road expansion project that has resulted in utilizing one lane only on certain stretches.

But it was a totally different story going downtown once we reached Bangkal area. It took us one hour to reach Monteverde Ave. where our first destination is located.

The traffic situation at MacArthur Highway specifically from Bangkal to Crossing Matina, and from the Davao Memorial Park gate down to Bankerohan area going to the city proper and back south, was beyond comprehension. The same was true of the traffic mess at Quimpo Blvd.

Imagine having witnessed bumper-to-bumper vehicle lines with movement slower than that of turtles! Worst the situation happened and still is happening in this time when there is an existing control of vehicles allowed to go back to the streets, as well as the still in effect restriction of people movement due to the continued prevalence of the deadly CoViD 19.

So last Monday it was traffic bedlam again. And we are certain that the same street chaos has continued to rule the usual city roads the last two days following, and is likely to remain in the days to come. And again, this chaotic road situation in the city is obtaining even as Davao is under the GCQ already.

Well, we thought that the city government has tapped the services of certain traffic management experts to handle the burgeoning traffic situation of this southern metropolis. We seem to feel their presence only through their voices when interviewed by television, radio and print reporters. And many Davaoenos are also saying that the presence of these supposed traffic experts is not felt or seen in the actual road situation in the city.

We say, Amen to that observation. Yes, where have all the traffic experts gone?

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