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ROUGH CUTS | Traffic gridlocks despite lesser travelers

LAST Wednesday we went to downtown Davao City to pay some bills falling due within the week. Our first destination was the Sta. Ana Multi-purpose Cooperative (SAMULCO) where our grocery account at the coop’s retail outlet was in danger of losing certain privileges.

We did not expect any travel problem because we, as well as the rest of the Davaoenos, are aware of the prevalence of restrictions on travel and the still partial opening of the city’s economy. In other words, the possibility of a traffic gridlock was far from our minds that midmorning of last Wednesday.

But to our chagrin, our travel from Bangkal to the city’s main business district took us three times longer than our trip duration from our house in the boondock to our residence in Catalunan Grande. Wow! That was over an hour negotiating a seven kilometer route between Bangkal and Monteverde Ave. The time was from 10:15 to 11:20 in the morning.

What was playing in our mind was that there could be a road accident somewhere on MacArthur Highway that slowed down vehicle movement on that particular stretch of the city’s southern highway.

Imagine, because of the intention of almost every driver to be ahead of others, they already made four vehicle lines on a 3-lane half of the road leading to the city proper! Since we were heading straight to downtown we instructed our son who was driving us, to stay in the middle lane so we would not be at a disadvantage when we get near the area where a possible road accident may have happened.

Vehicle movement was closed to being that of a turtle’s pace; applying brakes every so often; keeping guard on both sides to avoid being sideswiped by drivers who were growing impatient with the traffic gridlock.

To our consternation, and of most, if not all the drivers on that portion of the road at that time, we found there was no road mishap at all from Bangkal to Bankerohan Bridge. So, we assumed that many were also asking, “What went wrong?”

Yes, what really went wrong on the MacArthur Highway at that particular hour of Wednesday? No one could provide an answer. And, what made the situation more attention-drawing was the apparent low volume of vehicles on the other half of the highway leading to the city’s southern areas. The traffic flow was smooth even as that on our side of the road was bedlam.

What went wrong really? In that particular traffic mess last Wednesday morning towards noon, we were entertaining the idea that what went wrong is the deployment of the city’s supposed traffic enforcers. We only saw some of them manning traffic on certain road junctions like the Matina Crossing where traffic light was functioning, Quimpo Blvd.-MacArthur crossing, the Maa-MacArthur highway junction, and of course at the crossing near the approach to Bangkerohan Bridge. The traffic signal lights on the last two junctions we mention herein were not working that time.

So all the traffic men assigned south were concentrating at the various road crossings with MacArthur highway and no one was sent to look into the situation in-between. This resulted to drivers each to his own finding ways to get ahead of the others even if they have to cut corners or block other motorists.

Really, it is unfortunate that no one from among the city’s traffic management bureau or unit has ever thought of dispersing the routes of their men on motorcycles so that there is bigger opportunity to discover ongoing vehicular traffic build-ups at any given time of the day. These motorized traffic enforcers could immediately man the area or call for the deployment of traffic enforcers thereat to prevent the excessive build-up.

Unfortunately, no one at the management level of the city’s traffic seems to have thought of such a simple scheme. Hence, as we have observed, the gridlock last Wednesday, and perhaps in many other days in the past even at this time of travel restrictions within the city itself, keeps on happening to the dismay of commuters.
We hope our retired police colonel idol Dionisio Abude could find time to think about this simple idea of preventing traffic pandemonium. Sometimes management officials preoccupy themselves conceptualizing sophisticated ideas to solve even the most simple of problems that they end up unable to address them effectively.

And speaking of vehicular traffic, on that same Wednesday but shortly after lunch time, we observed a similar road situation along Quimpo Blvd. from Almendras gym to Sandawa road crossing.

The bumper-to-bumper vehicle lines were not actually very long; roughly over a kilometer only. But it took us about almost half an hour to extricate. This time we saw the quarantine checkpoint located in front of a high-rise condominium building fronting the Land Transportation Office (LTO) as the main culprit.

We do not have any idea why those in-charge of running the quarantine checkpoint decided to reduce to single lane the passage of vehicles getting out and coming into the city using the said road. The result constricted both entry and exit lanes forcing vehicles to crowd towards a single line upon entering the roofed area of the checkpoint.

It was clear to us, and for sure to all other travelers, that the single lane entry and exit was the one delaying the movement of vehicles even as there was no inspection of vehicles and temperature checking being done at the checkpoint.

If indeed the putting up of quarantine facility’s intention is to help implement the government’s health protocols how come there is no temperature checking of passengers, as well as de-sanitizing of vehicles being conducted at the quarantine area?
And easily, those manning the checkpoints on Quimpo Blvd. , instead of closing two of the entry and exit lanes, could have used these instead for passage of public utility vehicles where it would be easier for them to inspect whether the prescribed capacity and the wearing of face mask and face shields mandate are complied with by those concerned.

But no; it seems they prefer to allow the build-up of more traffic gridlocks. Is not that weird?

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