Former transportation undersecretary Aristotle Batuhan made this statement as he said that traffic management is not just an engineering concern that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) should address on its own.
“I am not really opposed to having flyovers, but I do believe that the issue on traffic is not an issue on infrastructure,” he told Cebu Daily News after appearing in a media forum yesterday.
Batuhan said traffic management is more of an urban planning and urban renewal issue.
Citing his experience with DOTC, Batuhan said that traffic problems is best addressed if the government determines the volume of vehicles and adopt an efficient mass transport system. He said that this is where a master plan is mostly needed.
Batuhan said that the implementation of existing laws will also help address congestion problems.
Batuhan was appointed DOTC undersecretary shortly after President Aquino assumed office in 2010. He resigned his post to join the prosecution panel in the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
He said there are existing laws and policies that only needed to be implemented to help decongest the city’s streets. One of which is the implementation of the Motor Vehicle Inspection System law by the Land Transportation Office and the Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board. The law prohibits the use of vehicles that already reached the prescribed life expectancy of 15 to 20 years.
“We have not really been eliminating unfit vehicles. They only add to the volume of traffic on the streets,” he said.
He said another solution is the enforcement of traffic laws like the prohibition of illegal parking on streets. He said that illegal parking reduces the width of the road for vehicle use.
Reacting to Batuhan’s statements, former congressman Raul del Mar, who also attended the forum, said that his flyover projects have long been planned and approved by the Regional Development Council to address congestion problems in Cebu City’s north district.
He said that what has been planned is a network of seven flyovers, of which three were already built near the Cebu Business Park, Tesda and near Ma. Luisa Village. The four others are for implementation.
Del Mar said that if the present administration does not support his project, he can wait for the election of a new mayor.
Batuhan told Del Mar that his flyover project is not the only solution to traffic.
He said that if Del Mar waited for years to have his seven flyovers implemented, it would not hurt if he would wait another year to allow the completion of a master plan which should be worked on by the city government in coordination with private sector.
“A lot of initiatives do not benefit from the inputs of urban planning experts” he said. Batuhan said that DPWH should learn to also listen to urban planning experts who are more knowledgeable on issues affecting growing cities and urban renewal for old cities.
“The DPWH may have the engineering perspective but this does not necessarily address the issue on proper urban planning” he said.
Batuhan said that the issue on whether or not Cebu City need flyovers should best be left to urban planning and traffic management experts.
“What is happening now is that we are rushing into a solution even before we are able to undertake proper urban planning and urban renewal,” he said. /Doris C. Bongcac, Chief of the Reporters