imyeyes-banner-sqIn My EyesBy Edward B. Antonio

IN MY EYES: Road issues (again) and queries

Last time around, I wrote a column entitled, “A road issue soon,” which merited several comments from netizens plying our national highway in the province.

Here, I raised some issues where a provincial legislator had been toying on the idea of prohibiting non 4-wheeled vehicles from using the main 2-lane national highway. Instead, they should use the highway shoulders.

I always favored this idea, fellas, except, I think there are still some things to fix to make it work effectively.

You see, some radio stations have been barking since the last week of August that certain Ilocos Sur towns would be implementing this rule to add to the strict implementation of the no driver’s license, no helmet policy in the province.

“Starting this September 2018, only 4-wheeled vehicles will use the main national highway. All other vehicles like tricycles and motorbikes must use the highway shoulders. This is one way of easing traffic or congesting our national highway,” said this radioman.

A netizens also posted this in FB: “Starting September 1, only 4-wheeled vehicles are allowed to use the national highway in our town. Any violation to this ordinance will merit heavy fines. Please disseminate.”

It is indeed a nice ordinance.

This is one of the reasons why our highways are being widened. With the bulk of vehicles in our roads, particularly the influx of cheap motorbikes from Taiwan and China driven by minors, this ordinance will partly solve the problem of road congestion and accidents involving minors.

Let’s go over once to some of these heavier issues again, fellas.

I hope we find favorable answers to these issues:

First, the shoulders are not yet finished from Sinait to Tagudin.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. One of the reasons for the delays, 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 particularly in the poblacion areas.

Question: Can the motorbikes and tricycles use the main highway if there are no shoulders or if the shoulders are too narrow since expansion has not started in these “risky” areas?

Second, the highway shoulders have become the parking area of some vehicle and tricycle owners. They park there as if the highway shoulder is an extension of their house or parking area. A motorcycle rider from Sinait to Tagudin may find it annoying in using the highway shoulder because there are lots of parked vehicles near business establishments. Mostly used are the shoulders beside grocery stores, auto-motorcycle repair shops, pharmacies, tricycles-for-hire line stations, in front of public markets etc. In other words, the shoulders are sometimes clogged.

Question: Who are in charge of declogging the shoulders? Are these parked vehicles meted, too, with heavy fines as those motorists without a driver’s license or helmet? Who will man the highway shoulders to keep them clear and safe for motorists? Are there also towing services to cart away these illegally parked vehicles once the driver is not around, as in EDSA?

Third, there are portions of the highway shoulders clogged, too, by big acacia trees. They are also a big threat to motorists.

Question: When will these acacia trees be sawn if ever they will be sawn? What is the position of the DENR regarding these acacia trees clogging the highway shoulders?

Fourth, if the slow-moving vehicles are 6 to 18 wheeler trucks, slow-moving 4-wheeled vehicles or vintage cars, will they also use the highway shoulders permanently?

Question: Will they not be obstacles, too, to fast-moving vehicles? Any position on this issue?

Fifth, the 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.

Question: This problem has been going on for years and it still exists. In a few months, it’s harvest season once more. Who are the authorities in-charge of securing the shoulders for motorists only? And why up to now, the highway shoulders are still used as solar driers?

And sixth, 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.

Question: Why are there no traffic officers or even a barangay tanod manning these areas?

These are the more weighty issues I could think of, fellas, you can add to the list.

I pray that these issues be solved soon so as to make our highways safer for everyone.

Drive safely, fellas.