by ERNESTO T. SOLIDUM
Resolving Kalibo’s Traffic Congestion
The basic question raised by program moderator Megs Lunn during the mayoralty campaign forum between Mayor William S. Lachica and Atty. Allen S. Quimpo is, “If elected Mayor, how can you solve the prevailing traffic congestion and smog of Kalibo?
Undoubtedly, the question is both timely and provocative. Everybody is quite aware of the Clean Air Act of 1997 and people need healthy environment conducive for growth in a rapidly growing metropolis. This problem has been around since the advent of motorized tricycles.
The data of Land Transportation Office (LTO) show that there is 10 percent annual increase of motor vehicles in this country. On top of this pyramid are trucks, buses, jeepneys and vans. Motorized tricycles and motorcycles come in handy because they are adapted to our narrow and ill-maintained roads. As a means of public transport, LTO has a long standing plan of easing out trikes from the national highway due to safety considerations. At best they must be confined to feeder or secondary roads.
Despite their increasing numbers, our present roads are pretty inadequate to insure motorists’ and passengers’ optimum safety and convenience of travel. Appropriately installed signages, pedestrian lanes, pedestrian overpass, traffic signal, traffic light and designated bus stops are very inadequate or lacking. Compounding the problem is constricted road passage due to illegally parked vehicles, obstructions and undisciplined drivers.
Actually during holidays, Saturday and Sunday afternoons, Poblacion, Kalibo is somnolent or a ghost town. Her shopping malls, grocery stores, home depot, bar and café shops have limited number of customers. Night life is likewise dry and desolate unlike other places like Boracay, Iloilo and Bacolod cities. Self imposed curfew hour during Martial law still lingers on among residents despite the lifting of the ban 27 years ago.
It is a welcome development that major educational institutions like Northwestern Visayan Colleges and Aklan Catholic College have relocated big bulk of their students population outside of the Poblacion. Others like Saint Gabriel College, Garcia College of Technology and Systems Technology Institute have opted to decongest the streets of Kalibo for good. Likewise the shopping center and wet market have eased out and transferred to Andagao.
Presently, there are three identified bottlenecks during rush hours in the streets of Kalibo namely: corner Toting Reyes St. and Roxas Avenue, corner Mabini and Roxas Avenue and corner D. Maagma and Toting Reyes St. Fortunately, the problems are sporadic and never permanent. From above situational analysis a short and long term plan could be developed and implemented by Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator.
Strategic and most practical way is to acquire a 2.0 hectare lot probably in Estancia or Tigayon, Kalibo to be developed as a modern Municipal Central Transport Terminal. This is quite similar to the one done by City of Iloilo at Tagbak, Leganes and City of Passi. In this facility, all passenger buses, trucks, vans, jeepneys, multi-cabs and tricycles will have parking spaces. Those trucks, buses, vans and jeepneys bound for Caticlan, Culasi Libertad, and other destinations shall have a diversion using the renovated bridge of Tinigao-Mobo passing Laguinbanwa, Numancia and exiting the national highway. On their return trip, they may use the Kalibo bridge and discharge its Kalibo bound passangers on a designated area along A. Mabini St. However, all travelers bound for different places on or outside of Aklan will board at the Central Terminal facility. This will free Kalibo streets of most transport vehicles.
It should be noted that increased traffic flow and pollutions have tripled for the last 10 years when the Roll On Roll Off used Caticlan Jetty Port as transit point of passengers from the South (Iloilo, Capiz, Negros) to Manila.
For the short term LGU Kalibo must limit the number of motorized tricycles to 1,500 units. Drastic reduction may cause temporary economic setback but there is a win-win solution to it. Four tricycle owners may band themselves to sell their units and acquire a brand new multi-cab. Economic analysis shows that they are viable, comfortable, efficient, sturdy and safer.
On the human aspect, both drivers and pedestrians must faithfully observe traffic rules and regulation. These include observance of no parking sign, one way, loading and unloading zone, no blowing of horns in hospital and school zones, no drunken driving, wearing of helmet. On the other hand, pedestrians must not jaywalk but use pedestrian lanes or cross streets on corners, board and alight only on stop and unloading places. There must be strict implementation of the law.
It is laudable that Iloilo City several times bigger than Poblacion, Kalibo both in area and population has implemented an innovative infra projects that benefit the present and future generations. For more than a decade the streets of Iloilo City are clean, orderly and have minimal pollution. Thanks to the foresight of its leaders.
The challenge is upon us in Aklan. Must we keep abreast of the times or remain passive and skeptical? Your answer is as good as mine. We can resolve this nagging problem once and for all if there is unity and cooperation. /MP