How does one solve a problem like Puerto Princesa City’s ever increasing traffic woes?
A recent news item carried by Palawan News reported on an idea cooking up at the city engineering office to build an eye-catching elevated highway that will connect the city center to its southern suburb in Barangay Mangingisda with a 4-lane long bridge over Puerto Bay.
It wasn’t too long ago when environmentalist lawyer Atty. Antonio Oposa designed a pedal powered tram system that will be installed along Rizal Avenue to decongest this city’s busiest thoroughfare and encourage commuters to exercise as well.
Another solution often bruited about is the prohibition of tricycles from the national roads, a proposal which, strictly speaking, is already covered by an existing national policy issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government. This proposal, which sounds practical at the outset, has simply no takers from any sitting government official concerned over the loss of potential votes from the families and dependents of the legion of trike drivers operating in the city.
A local businessman, fed up with the traffic, also suggested recently a one-way scheme system within the city center to smoothen traffic flow.
There is not a dearth of bright ideas; the real challenge is in getting them out of the drawing boards.
There are medium and long term solutions as well that are formed around the idea of encouraging populations to migrate to rural areas, creating efficient mass transport systems, educating drivers to follow the rules – the solutions are as endless as there are experts in various disciplines that have anything to do with urban planning and management.
The reality that we see however is the rapid decay of our city into a traffic mess that many growing cities have gone through. It would seem that oft repeated proposition holds true – that population increase plus more cars on the road equals traffic and everything bad that goes with it. We submit that the rate of urban blight is proportionate to the degree of traffic management inefficiency, corruption in pubic services and sheer lack of vision. We seem unblessed to have them all.
What does Puerto Princesa City need to do to counter what seems inevitable? Maybe the solution does not lie on the government alone and the challenge to break the curse of urban decay also rests on the shoulders of its citizenry, through individual and collective engagement.
Maybe we need to start facing the bleak reality that things are naturally doomed to fail and start taking stock of what individual lifestyle changes we need to make to deal with the presently bad traffic and brace for a worse traffic curse.