Baguio City, the country’s undisputed Summer Capital, had been experiencing monstrous traffic jams regularly even with the influx of thousands of visitors from the different parts of the lowlands over the past several years. The November 13, 2017 traffic fiasco in the city is one for the books because the influx of visitors, aside from the influx of more than 50,000 motor vehicles, created a standstill in the traffic along most roads not only in the central business district area but also in other areas around the city.
Many public utility and private vehicle owners had a difficult time maneuvering just for them to reach their destinations but it took them quite some time to move out of the traffic greed lock in most roads before they were able to arrive home. Some PUV drivers narrated that it took them two and a half hours travel from the giant chain of malls to the Quezon Hill area while most private vehicle drivers narrated that it took them more than an hour travel from the city proper to the Pacdal area using various alternate routes. Other drivers have the same stories to tell that there was really an abnormal traffic situation in the city last November 13, 2017.
The monstrous traffic congestion in the city came as a surprise to various sectors although there were other stakeholders who were not really surprised about the situation and expected the worst case scenario to happen in the city, especially that classes in all levels that Monday was not actually suspended even if the work and classes in Manila and Central Luzon were suspended that time to pave the way for the country’s hosting of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Golden Jubilee. Residents and visitors alike posted their unsolicited comments in the social media during that time as part of their constitutional right to freedom of expression. However, it was unfortunate that there are some people who continue to be selfish and seem not to understand the prevailing situation in their surroundings. It is an admitted fact that the city is one of the preferred destinations in the country primarily because of its unique climate as divulged by most of the visitors who were asked on why they continue to patronize the city over all other destinations around the country. Instead of coming out with unnecessary comments that tend to hurt the feeling of others, those who want to make comments in the social media should come out with concrete solutions and suggestions on how to assist local officials in formulating the necessary plans and programs to at least minimize the serious negative effects of traffic to the visitors and residents alike. There is a need for concerned government agencies and the local government to come out with decisions that strike a balance between the interest of the visitors and the general public considering that we owe everything to the public
We commend the officers and members of the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) and the different force multipliers for a job well done in managing the city’s traffic situation at the time of the monstrous traffic jams around the city. They stood their ground to allow motor vehicles to freely move to their desired destinations even up to the late hours of the night. The traffic plan was in place but it seems the volume of motor vehicles that will flock to the city during that time was not actually given the necessary projection and was not given the priority concern that is why when the vehicles came up, there was really a big problem for everyone.
The decision by Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan to suspend classes in the pre-school to high school levels was timely issued that is why there was a better traffic flow around the city during the two days of declared no classes which allowed visitors to freely move around the city.
We do not need stop-gap traffic measures or ban aid soluti9ons to our city’s traffic problems. We were just surprised that those who were against the put up of multi-level parking structures in some parts of the city were not vocal in the social media because the public will surely get back at them. Now, we pose a challenge to those against the put up of multi-level parking structures to come out with concrete solutions on how to address the city’s traffic once there will be another worst case scenario which will be likely, especially in the upcoming conduct of major big events in the city starting this month up to the end of the summer season. It is easy to tell people to leave their cars in their designated lodging areas or tell them to walk instead of using their cars but the problem on our public transport system is greatly affecting the decision of visitors whether or not to use their cars when roaming around the city. Our taxi and jeepney drivers, most of the time, are selective in ferrying their passengers that is why most visitors are tempted to simply bring their cars to their destinations for convenience.
Let us continue to be proactive in finding solutions on how to address the same problem which will surely recur from time to time. Let us not be fence sitters so that we will be counted in when the worst case scenario will be realized in the future.