Palmes-Dennis: Worsening traffic in Oro

Susan Palmes-Dennis

THE highways of Cagayan de Oro City and Misamis Oriental are congested. In fact congested is an understatement. If there is another word that can best describe its traffic congestion then that would be it.

I was in Cagayan de Oro recently to attend my father's funeral and that of course would be another story. I stayed in Cagayan de Oro City while most of my relatives lived in Tagoloan town, Misamis Oriental.

My husband Ronnie drove me from the city to Tagoloan town proper twice a day either in the morning or evening. Aside from recollecting memories of my tatay (father) a good portion of the time spent outside was focused on the road.

I tell you this, not only am I terrified and frustrated, I've also discovered that I had this passenger's rage and I didn’t know I was capable of hitting a “single motor driver” within my reach for he was nearly side swept by Ronnie.

We'll talk about the Cagayan de Oro City traffic some other time. For starters we talk about the traffic situation starting at the intersection of Limketkai Mall in the city and the congestion is easy to recognize, the roads are filled with old and new cars, trucks, buses, traysikads (pedicabs) and motorelas of all kinds. These motorcycle drivers have been sprouting like mushrooms in the road and a lot of them had no helmets.

This is the traffic situation starting at Barangay Lapasan onwards to Barangays Gusa, Cugman, Puerto and Bugo all the way to Tagoloan town. Needless to say, the highway is clogged and traffic impedes the flow of vehicles in all sides.

At first I got sick thinking about how I hit the motorcycle rider but I was terrified of him and my thoughts then were that I may land in jail instead of going home to the Carolinas in the United States (US). Ronnie at first was so amused and wondered why there was no car wreckage every second due to the free-wheeling flow of vehicles. It's crazy, he said.

I thought to myself that this wasn't how I remembered traffic in Cagayan de Oro before I left the country. What happened? This is Philippine style traffic I've experienced and I cannot help but write about how traffic is being regulated in the US. The highway or interstate as it is called in the US is cleared of any obstruction such as traffic incidents, work zones and weather.

The highway should have all the traffic control devices at all times. During my stay in Cagayan de Oro, I spotted a car wreck at Gusa Highway late in the afternoon. As per the usual scenario, traffic stalled due to the usual practice of the victims and the offender waiting on the police to arrive in the area. This creates a crowd of curious motorists and passengers all looking at the “scene of the accident” while others were left to wait, stew and wonder what is holding up traffic.

In the US, traffic accidents are acted on with dispatch since it impedes and stalls traffic flow to the detriment and inconvenience of the motorists. Road repairs like asphalting and cementing (by the way I didn't see any markers in road repair sites in Cagayan de Oro City) is also another traffic factor and in the US, road repairs are only done in the evening or early morning when people are still asleep and there isn't much vehicles around.

If it cannot be helped, motorists are shown shortcuts or re-routed.

Weather conditions like pools of rainwater in the middle of the road or at the road side can also delay traffic and these are also immediately addressed in the US. Isn't the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) supposed to install markers on the highway specifically from Barangay Lapasan in Cagayan de Oro City to Tagoloan town? I haven’t seen any marker on the road such as white lines, broken white lines, solid white lines and yellow lines, either double solid or single line.

Traffic signs are established international standards for traffic. I haven’t seen any lines, maybe markers in the local highways that had since vanished since the paint used was sub-standard. Or maybe we haven’t seen the markers because there was no light in the highway.

We were still in Cagayan de Oro when that crazy driver plowed seven people to their graves in Barangay Cugman. That was tragic and horrible. How many times have we seen trucks and cars with no tail lights and headlights.

The headlights should be turned on an hour before sunset and left on for safety reasons. So many traffic violations and yet where are the enforcers? Why do crimes and accidents happen only in the morning or afternoon? Correction, statistics showed there were also several accidents that occur in the evening just like that the Bulua accident more than a week ago. Even the colors of the vehicles that got trashed in the accident were substandard. “Morag nag boot boot na a yellow, purple og orange. Morag (It's like they decided on themselves. There's yellow, purple and orange. It's like the) campaign period,” said my dear friend Carla Salvana of Kilay 2000.

These are just my opening observations on traffic here in Cagayan de Oro and the rest of the country and I will discuss this in my succeeding columns.

In the meantime may we call on the cops, traffic enforcers, DPWH and the Land Transportation Office and the Roads and Traffic Administration to do a better job of manning traffic flow in the city.