COVID-19 and Baguio’s traffic
By Atty. Antonio P. Pekas
Viruses will eventually burn themselves out. The scary thing about the COVID-19 is the prediction of an English scientist that it might be with us for the next 18 months or 1.5 years. The good thing though is that there is still no local transmission. Those under investigation or under monitoring now were thought to have been infected abroad and not by local carriers of the virus. If there is local transmission, there could be a lot of cases as against health facilities that can deal only with a certain number of patients. Nevertheless, a way would be found to deal with the matter.
But the local picture is quite OK in the Cordillera. We still don’t have a confirmed case and, hopefully, there would be none until the virus burns itself out.
As we were informed there are slight indications that the virus is starting to wane. This is no reason thought to let our guards down. Let us keep our immune systems strong.
Is the virus a biological weapon that went astray? If it is, then it just shows how vulnerable we are. Just a spray of the virus in our key cities and our country would be no more.
Not just us. The whole world.
For me, there are two factors that are feeding this scary idea. Firstly, why was the young doctor who revealed the existence of the virus treated like a criminal by Chinese officials and then he eventually died?
Secondly, why was an investigative journalist who was eyeing the matter suddenly disappeared, only to resurface later as a carrier of the virus, thus, had to be quarantined? How convenient.
If the virus were a part of a biological weapon, then with more reason that scientists around the world should hurry to come up with an antidote. Otherwise, the whole of mankind would be in peril of being exterminated.
Those in-charge of solving the city’s traffic woes had been experimenting and there are good indications they are getting good results.
In Marcos Highway, the hellish traffic then is almost non-existent. During the morning rush it used to take us about an hour to negotiate the Green Valley-Marcos Highway junction all the way to our office in Ferguson Rd. Now, it takes us less than 30 minutes. The Crystal Cave junction traffic gridlock is non-existent already, and the slowdown at the Bakakeng- and Legarda-Marcos Highway junctions are now tolerable. The Campo Sioco junction has also been solved by not allowing those coming from that barangay to enter Marcos Highway during rush hours.
So many people had nothing good to say about the recent experiment to reroute the jeepneys parking at Kayang St. My attitude then was that, at least, some people are breaking their heads to improve the traffic. I was thinking, If the experiment failed, at least they tried. The worst was if nobody was trying. That would have meant nobody was thinking.
It appears though that the experiment is working. It might just need some fine tuning to avoid the buildups that happen when the volume of vehicles is so much.
What makes me salute the mayor is the positive response to my complaint on the double parking during the Monday flag raising ceremonies along Upper Abanao Road between the police station and City Hall. Sometimes the guests to the flag raising ceremonies would also double park below the front of City Hall. Those double parked cars with their hazard light flashing always irk me. Not only because they would invariably cause gridlock traffic but it reveals their attitude. As if they bought for themselves one lane of the road.
How can such be countenanced? It is highly immoral to allow that while wrongly parked vehicles in less busy streets are haplessly towed.
I was about to write the mayor about this then there was the invitation to a presscon with City Hall officials and DepEd bigwigs on the CARAA. So I went and harangued the City Hall officials on the matter. I even repeatedly used the phrase scandalous illegal parking. Some people in that event thought that I was out of line because it was about the CARAA.
No I was not because if the double parking during flag raising ceremonies were allowed, it could have choked the whole city during the athletic meet as there would be so many vehicles around. Baguio is so small that one street that is immobilized by heavy traffic could choke the whole city.
So as the city mayor appears relentless and fair in the demolition of structures along roads right of way – a structure of a lawyer friend who was one of his supporters during the campaign was demolished– we cheer him on to continue exerting effort to solve our traffic woes.**