BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan on Monday said the city government continues to work to strike a balance in ensuring the welfare of both residents and tourists as visitors’ influx becomes a regular occurrence in this tourist city.
“Ever since, our constituents have been our priority in everything that we do but we also need to take care of our visitors; that is why we really have to achieve a balance so that we can take care of our visitors without sacrificing the welfare of our residents and we can do this with teamwork and cooperation,” Domogan said.
The mayor said the city government and the city police can only do so much with the city’s small land area so everybody must cooperate to maintain its stature as a haven for both residents and non-residents.
This as the city braces for the arrival of droves of vacationers for the Christmas break and for the Baguio Flower Festival in February next year which are expected to cause monstrous traffic jams and inconvenience anew causing displeasure among some locals.
Since the opening of the Tarlac–Pangasinan–La Union Expressway (TPLEX) which shortened travel time from Central Luzon to the city in the middle of 2014, the city has been drawing record numbers of tourists and this apparently continues to soar with the opening of the TPLEX’s Binalonan to Pozorrubio section in Pangasinan last December 6 which cut further travel time to about 45 minutes from Tarlac.
The city had the taste of the enormity of the problem when the mayor was forced to suspend classes due to the road crisis that ensued when throngs of tourists came up to the city during the ASEAN Summit holiday last November.
It is apparent that this will become a regular occurrence as traffic congestions have also became a common fare even during regular weekends in the city in the past months.
City police director Ramil Saculles said they are continuously leveling up their operations to address the traffic challenge especially in the identified traffic bottlenecks which number to 25 areas.
He said they will scout for more areas to be designated as parking sites.
He said they have also tapped barangay officials and tanods to help in keeping order and watch against possible intrusion by terrorist groups in their areas of jurisdiction.
Saculles said they are open to suggestions for solutions from any individual or group on the traffic concern as they are always fine-tuning their operations to find a permanent solution to the impasse.
Tourism remains as the main bread and butter for the city which is considered as the country’s Summer Capital and the region’s education and trade center.
By Aileen P. Refuerzo