So went the declaration of one mayor of pre-cityhood San Fernando at the time the pre-flyover Dolores Junction of MacArthur Highway and Gapan-Olongapo Road was starting to be a traffic chokepoint.
That same traffic-equals-progress sentiment was shared by one mayor in perennially traffic-choked Apalit who, when his vice mayor recommended a traffic enhancement scheme, pointed to nearby San Simon as a no-traffic-no-progress backwater town.
Only sometime back, when the mayor of Sta. Ana town was assailed by motorists and commuters alike over the horrendous traffic in his town, he riposted that traffic kept his constituents from hunger and want. Yeah, that directly translates to traffic feeding his people, traffic being their very source of livelihood.
Some warped sense of looking at things there.
It is not traffic but wide, traffic-free roads that are “an igniter for progress.” So we remember one business character being quoted as rationalizing the wholesale massacre of trees along the MacArthur Highway dutifully sanctioned by the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources, aggressively executed by the Department of Public Works and Highways, and heartily applauded by the public-private partnership of the City of San Fernando and the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
So the trees were felled, the roads widened. So has progress been ignited?
Yes, to alert level 4, to use the conflagration analogy. Witness the proliferation of vulcanizing shops, tricycle and jeepney terminals situating themselves right at the widened portion of MacArthur Highway from Malolos down to Apalit; the eateries, sign-makers, furniture shops, even ukay-ukay stores abutting on the outermost lanes of the highway.
So has traffic been improved?
Not in Apalit, Calumpit and Malolos, at least.
To some extent at the Sindalan and Del Rosario crossings of MacArthur Highway in the City of San Fernando. The traffic mess there – as elsewhere primarily caused by undisciplined and illiterately arrogant, law-flouting jeepney drivers who run red lights at the outer lanes, stop to pick-up passengers in the middle lane and hog the inner lane, plus tricycles and trucks utterly devoid of road courtesy and totally ignorant of traffic laws.
Traffic does indeed hinder progress.
It does not have to take a Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan just for us to know that.
“The traffic problem in Angeles City hinders the growth of the local economy, particularly the improvement of the business climate and development of tourism potential.” So premised Pamintuan his call for a traffic summit held last week participated in by the different stakeholders in the traffic and transportation sectors, acronymed thus: TODAs for the tricycle operators and drivers associations, JODAs for their jeepney counterparts, the TTMOs or traffic and transport management officers, NGOs and advocacy groups, the MACCCI representing the business sector, etcetera.
The sheer volume of participants and their active participation in the discussions as well as the proposals presented and solicited brought about an air of optimism, a can-do spirit to the summit.
“We are optimistic that the summit will serve as an effective starting point to improve the city’s traffic and transport system with the city government, in the spirit of enlightened and responsible governance, joining forces with all the stakeholders.” So Pamintuan holds.
Pamintuan’s Agyu Tamu candor is well-placed. Even prior to the summit, a series of consultative meetings and workshops have been conducted by the city government with stakeholders with the intent of drawing “focal areas” for the Angeles City Traffic and Transport Action Plan and the formulation of an Omnibus City Traffic Code.
Yes, and good to hear some city hall sources that no cutting of trees along MacArthur Highway and the city streets is incorporated in the plans. As yet. We pray not ever.
Pamintuan himself was emphatic in a recent meeting: Road courtesy and discipline are foremost in improving traffic flow. Where these are lacking, strict implementation of traffic rules comes in force.
We wish you success, Sir.