WHATEVER happened to the Mindanao Railway Project? It was one multi-billion peso infrastructure project conceived several years back and was hoped by many to finally be started (at least) during the incumbency of Mindanaoan President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
The possibility of the implementation of the first phase of the project covering the Tagum-Digos route via Davao City had its loudest decibel when surveys were conducted by supposed experts commissioned by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) towards the middle of the Duterte term. The decibel was heightened by the protest of residents in some subdivisions that were identified to be hit by the construction of the railway track. The most prominent among those who expressed their opposition to the proposed route were some residents of the high-end residential enclave of Monteritz in Barangay Langub. But there were several other subdivision dwellers especially those in the north sector of the railroad track who was agonizing over the chances of being displaced.
Unfortunately during the last two years of Mindanaoan President Duterte’s term, talks about the start of the first phase of the railway project suddenly died down. Even the politicians and those representatives of national government agencies in the Regional Development Council (RDC), the supposed planner for development in the region, seemed to have gagged mouths when asked of the status of the project.
Instead, what was talked about the loudest were such projects as the Davao City Coastal Highway and the by-pass road project from Bunawan in the city’s north sector to Binugao in Toril of the south portion of the city became the favorite subjects of local politicians when asked to mention about big-ticket projects the government is implementing in the city.
And the politicians have every reason to boast of the projects. After all, these were already ongoing and the implementation appears to be smooth sailing. There were no reported problems with tight-of-way acquisition. Even the boring of the parallel tunnels of the by-pass road was not hampered by opposition of whatever kind.
There is no doubt that these two infrastructure projects that are now visible as to the level of its progress will greatly help ease the burgeoning vehicular traffic in the city. These projects could be why the Mindanao Railway Project may not be the top of mind for the people in this Davao metropolis.
But of course, the railway project will definitely bring more advantages to the entire Mindanao island as it will reduce travel costs for people and products. In other words, Mindanao’s economy can be expected to grow much faster if a railway is available to serve the travel needs of people in cities and provinces traversed by the railway.
We can only hope that the Mindanao Railway Project is not erased in the planning board of both the local and national governments.
We are certain that with the fast-gaining economic recovery of the nation after the devastation brought about by the CoViD 19 pandemic and the apparent lull in natural calamities, a railway in Mindanao may become a major necessity.
There is this rule crafted by the City Transport and Traffic Management Office (CTTMO) for public utility vehicle drivers dropping and picking up passengers on yellow boxes designated in Davao City’s major thoroughfares that needs to be thoroughly studied as to its safety consideration.
What is this rule? Drivers should only drop or pick up passengers inside yellow boxes marked on certain portions of city roads within 20 seconds. Wow! Is it not courting accident? What if there are a number of passengers simultaneously getting off the vehicle and others are queuing to get a ride? What if the passengers wanting to disembark belong to the so-called elderly sector or have some problems with body movement? Will the 20-second time limit suffice?
It is our take that this is one rule that is easier said than complied unless the CTTMO has the manpower to be stationed in all areas with yellow boxes to keep track of the time that the drivers are unloading or loading passengers.
We believe that the adoption of this rule is one that is not properly consulted with relevant sectors even as those who pushed for the time duration did not really put some thought into how it could possibly impact the riding public.
For all we know the enforcement of this rule could lead to serious injuries to people’s limbs or even possibly cost their lives.
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