imyeyes-banner-sqIn My EyesBy Edward B. Antonio

IN MY EYES: A road issue soon

I’m tackling today a controversial thing, fellas.

It’s not yet a big issue but in some future time, it will be.

I heard that there is a provincial legislative maker who is toying with the idea of making a resolution that the highway shoulder will soon be the primary road for “slow-moving vehicles” like motorcycles, tricycles, kuligligs etc. leaving the primary highway for the exclusive use of only “fast-moving” vehicles.

A government official also said he favors the plan and he would be more than happy if a provincial board resolution will turn the scheme into an ordinance and become a law in the province.

“I hate these tricycles and motorcycles driving slowly in front of me whenever I’m in a hurry to go to my appointments,” he said. “No matter how many times I blow my horn, they won’t give way. They should be using the shoulder instead and not the main highway!”

He drives a Ford Ranger.

A school principal from the north also shares the same sentiment.

“Normally, it takes me only 30 minutes to drive to Vigan from home. Now, with all those motorcycles, tricycles and slow-moving vehicles adding to the traffic, the stretch has become a 1-hour trip,” he said.

He drives a Toyota Innova.

I wish to agree with the legislative official, fellas. What I mean is, it would indeed be very orderly to see these fast-moving vehicles using the main highway and the “slow-moving” ones using the shoulder, anyway, a DPWH official said the highway is slowly turning into a 4-lane highway.

“That’s our goal,” he said.

But before the scheme will turn into a resolution and ultimately into an ordinance, may I humbly enumerate the following observations to consider.

First, the shoulders are not yet finished. Keriong-Policarpio Construction, a Phil-Korean construction company which is in-charge of turning the La Union-Ilocos Norte highway into a 4-lanewide highway, has until year 2022 to finish the project, that is, if it can meet the deadline. One of the reasons of the delay, a road official admits, is that there are portions of the national highways where expansion is somewhat “risky” because that would mean demolishing a portion of the houses of some influential people.

Second, the highway shoulder has become the parking area of some vehicle owners. They park there as if the highway shoulder is an extension of their house. One can easily prove I’m true if one tries traversing the length of the road from Tagudin to Sinait and back. Not only private vehicles have become shoulder obstructions nowadays but even business establishments and junk shops. There is a junkshop there north of Vigan where the owner has made the highway shoulder an extension of his business.

Third, the highway shoulders are still mushroomed with electric and communication cable posts. They are sprawled all over the highway shoulder.  Although there is already a commitment by the ISECO to relocate its posts so that the shoulder could be used by the tax-paying public, there is no definite date yet as to when ISECO can relocate them all. Or maybe it already has a target date as to when, hoping it’s sooner. I think the DPWH has allocated a monetary share to help ISECO in the relocation process. ISECO has relocated some of its posts but it should see to it also that the sawn posts leave no protruding remnant or holes to avoid accidents. My good manager-friend there, Egdon Sabio, is one of the best managers to ever occupy that ISECO seat and recent interviews with him through our Kapihan Iti Amianan Media Forum has proven his determination to fix the problem the soonest possible date.

Fourth, the highway shoulders are full of big acacia trees, some of which are already century-year-old. When will these acacia trees be sawn, too? Will the DPWH secure a permit from the DENR before it could remove these trees? Or will these trees be spared? What is the position of the DENR and the LGUs?

Fifth, if the slow-moving vehicles are 6- to 18-wheeler trucks, old, slow-moving 4-wheeled vehicles or vintage cars, will they also use the highway shoulders permanently? Will they not be more of an obstacle to fast-moving tricycles and motorcycles?

Sixth, motorcycles such as the Yamaha Mio, Sniper, Suzuki Raider, big bikes and other modern-day motorcycles are fast-moving. Sometimes, they can overtake vans and cars especially if the driver is in a hurry. Their drivers also have appointments to attend to. Will they be prohibited soon from using the main national highway?

Seventh, the national highway shoulders have become the property of some big-time palay and corn traders and some farmers during harvest time and post-harvest season. They dry their products on the shoulders in both sides. By the time the month has reached the ber-months until May the following year, (or a period of 8 months) the motoring public no longer own a considerable portion of the highway shoulders. They only stop drying their stuff during the rainy season. It will become the property of these palay and corn traders and these big-time farmers because they don’t have any solar drier of their own or their own solar driers can’t accommodate all their products. Puera de los buenos po!

In an FB post by a concerned motorist, a local radio announcer reacted: “I think it’s okay anyway the use of the shoulder by these traders and farmers is only ‘seasonal.’ I think they are excused.”

Well, everybody’s business has to survive, fellas, but there are two sides of the coin.

Eight, there are still many roadworks where the shoulder needs to be riprapped and all the soil dug are dumped on the shoulder. Any motorist driving on the shoulder will find this very annoying and dangerous, too, especially if there are lots of vehicles whizzing along the main highway. Changing route into the main highway needs a traffic enforcer to man the traffic to avoid accident.

Ninth, there are still many bridges that are not widened or are still being widened.

Tenth, there are lots of undisciplined drivers. Sometimes, they overtake using the shoulders. Big buses sometimes blow their very loud horns scaring the motorcycle drivers in front of them as if saying, “Alis ka diyan, g_##!!rr!!” and –

Eleventh, I suggest there should be a forum with motorists and vehicle owners to get their opinions. If the resolution is explained well to them and they realize that it’s time to accept change to benefit the greater majority of the people particularly the motorists, it might gain ground.

Hoping for the best, fellas.

Good luck po. #