By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr.
SORSOGON CITY (BicolToday.com) – A three month dry run to study the traffic situation in the main thoroughfares of Sorsogon is in effect with the issuance of Executive Order No.014, S.2012 by Mayor Leovic Dioneda which he signed August 14, that became effective the next day.
The EO covers the provisions of three city traffic ordinances and re-structures the loading, unloading and parking areas of motor vehicles in the central commercial district of the city. The re-structuring in the traffic flow has affected business establishments at the central business area of the city and has created a bit of disarray among the riding public during the first few days of the dry run.
Affected by the EO are certain business establishments along Magsaysay and Rizal streets here, which for a long time have unhampered loading and unloading rights fronting their stores, now strictly curtailed by a new traffic markings prohibiting the practice.
De-congesting the central commercial center was a strong move by Mayor Dioneda that has sparked criticisms from business groups, the riding public, private vehicle owners as they were not properly consulted by the city planning development office. Adding apprehension was the delay in the issuance of the executive order which was released a day before the implementation of the Order.
To oversee the new traffic scheme, the EO created a Local Traffic Administration Council whose members will use the collated data as source materials in crafting a city traffic code expected to amend certain provisions of city ordinances related to traffic flows. The LTAC shall supervise the dry run and will be dissolved after a city traffic code has been formulated and enacted by the city council.
City Administrator Ireneo Manaois, in a meeting with the Sorsogon City Transport Federation and Jeepney Cooperatives, clarified that they will be suspending the implementation of certain provisions of city ordinances which runs counter with the new traffic flows covered by the executive order.
He asserted that all points of concern were discussed in numerous meetings with stake holders making sure that the executive order will be beneficial to all. Doing so, legal observers believed it will be an invitation for a judicial inquiry since how can an executive order suspend provisions or parts thereof of an enacted city ordinance. Supplanting the provisions by an executive order is one for the books, they said.
The dry run of ninety days will put to test the viability of the new transport terminals for tricycles at the basement area of the renovated Sorsogon Shopping Center to be operated by the city government, and the Sorsogon Grand Terminal at Barangay Balogo for jeepneys, vans and buses under the management of LKY Development Corporation. The operation of both terminals is covered by a Memorandum of Agreement and Understanding between property developer LKY Group and the Sorsogon City.
The EO calls for the observance of trucks ban in using Rizal and Magsaysay Streets on certain times, which is in effect by virtue of City Ordinance No. 10 of 2007, however, in accord with provincial bus operators they were given reprieve temporarily, exempting them from the ban.
The issue of tricycle franchises, though limited by the executive order in their operational areas, is contention between the jeepney operators and the city government. Strict enforcement of this rule is yet to be achieve since traffic enforcers assigned could not identify the destinations of tricycles plying the central business area of the city. It sometimes services the short route passengers going to Bacon and Legazpi commonly served by the public utility jeepneys. This must be resolved according to transport group, JODAS and JODABS.
An understanding was reach among members of the transport groups that they will be ferrying passengers from the central commercial district of the city for free to the terminal to avoid the over charging of tricycle fair by certain members of FASTOD, the federation of tricycle groups here. The riding public has been complaining that tricycle drivers charge them for a one way ride from the city proper to Sorsogon Grand Terminal as high as thirty pesos, contrary to the approved city rate of only nine pesos per passenger, except when a special trip was desired by the passenger. They are calling the attention of LTAC to remedy the abuses.
Under scrutiny by the business sector is the provision of the executive order prohibiting obstruction to traffic and pedestrians. They want to believe that with the execution of the EO, all sidewalk vendors, obstructing signages, abandoned vehicles and other forms of obstruction must be removed. For now, sidewalk vendors are still peddling in the central business district of the city.
The transport groups and other stakeholders would like to believe that the executive order is not a lip service as the residents of the city wait for the early enactment of a city traffic code. [BicolToday.com]
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