Last week’s traffic jams in Davao City got many residents complaining. What it was, however, was a confluence of many factors and variables.
Nonetheless, the hope of continuous efforts like planned infrastructure and mass transit are the key to easing it by supplying the means to help motorists.
The fact is that Davao is a magnet of growth and opportunity that attracts people. The high growth of almost 11% and the low 3% unemployment means there will be a lot of people and vehicles on the streets seeking and trading opportunity.
That said, economists agree that traffic is an externality, or an unintended consequence of a high growth economy, since public goods and services like roads cannot be built quickly enough in the short term to alleviate the congestion brought by increased economic activity. All over the world the case is the same.
In our case, imagine if about 3,000 vehicles entered the city from other nearby cities on that one day in our streets to bring shoppers and tourists. Combine this with what is already an additional estimated 10,000 vehicles bought by Davaoenos in 2018 and you will not be surprised at the traffic.
Another factor lamented by many residents are the numerous Christmas parties and events that blocked off the use of some city streets, and the unfinished road repairs that cause detours that further clog thoroughfares.
These factors, conspired to shift the volume of traffic to spill over to other routes, thereby congesting them in the process. Decades ago the same activities would not have caused the same gridlock since the total volume of vehicles was much less than it is today.
The jams are a wake up call for all to make achieving responsible traffic management a shared endeavor.
The good news is that this is a short term situation that will be resolved once new roads are opened. This is exactly what happened to the Ulas and Mamay intersections where new bypass roads have been opened. Even at rush hour, these two roads are no longer the traffic nightmare they once were.
Another new thoroughfare expected within 2019 year is the San Rafael Road in Maa, where the bridge is currently being expanded to turn this route into a four lane road that is expected will ease congestion along McArthur highway by encouraging motorists once used to this main highway to take this new route that connects the old circumferential road in Bajada with the newly expanded road that skirts the crocodile park and passes near the city jail.
This also decongests the Bacaca Road and Buhangin interchange as motorists coming from the south through the diversion road can take this new route into the main central business district of Bajada.
Hopefully, the Davao Coastal roads’ first section is due to open within 2019 once right of way issues are resolved. This will ease the entry of vehicles from the south of the city and decongest the often clogged McArthur highway.
New flyovers and routes are planned. But since most major roads in the city are already national highways over which the Department of Public Works and Highways has jurisdiction, we will wait and see how quickly they implement the necessary interventions.
In my next column I will offer some suggestions to help manage the other side of the equation: traffic demand.
In case you have other suggestions or specific ones for certain areas, please let us know through our facebook page: facebook.com/johntriapage