ILOILO City – Imagine the 14-kilometer stretch of the Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. Avenue (Diversion Road) from Mandurriao to Jaro district teeming with traffic auxiliaries enforcing local and national traffic rules and regulations round the clock.
By January 2020 if not before this year is over, the avenue would be made a “traffic discipline zone”, according to Mayor Jerry Treñas.
“I want this scheme initially tried on the Diversion Road para mapakita nga pwede maobra ini,” said Treñas.
The city government’s Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO) will be tasked to enforce the plan in coordination with the Land Transportation Office and the Highway Patrol Group of the Philippine National Police.
“All vehicles passing through Diversion Road should observe local traffic ordinances and the National Traffic Code 24/7 or they would be apprehended,” said PSTMO chief Jeck Conlu.
What are these traffic rules and regulations?
Conlu said these included the speed limit ordinance, the ordinance against modified mufflers, points where to load and unload passengers, the use of helmets by motorcycle riders, the use of seatbelts, non-use of cellphones while driving, and windshields must be free from gadgets that directly distract the driver’s line of sight, among others.
Treñas said giant telecommunications company Philippine Long Distance Telephone offered to establish a traffic command center with closed circuit television cameras on the Diversion Road for the monitoring of vehicles.
After the Diversion Road, next to be made a “traffic discipline zone” is McArthur Drive from Barangay Tabuc Suba to Barangay Balantang in Jaro.
Like the Diversion Road, McArthur Drive is also “problemado pirmi sa traffic because of lack of discipline,” said Treñas.
The mayor previously said he would push through with the intelligent traffic system (ITS) that former mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog proposed in 2017.
An ITS involves the use of closed-circuit television cameras capable of determining the speed of vehicles (if they are overspeeding) and of recording them. It would also entail the establishment of a command/monitoring center.
Mabilog thought of having an ITS for the city to address traffic congestion, stop illegal parking and curb reckless driving that mostly result to vehicular accidents.
He said an ITS would discourage drivers from disregarding traffic rules and regulations, and it would also help law enforcers to easily identify and catch violators.
In January 2017 Mabilog formed a technical working group and the city government allotted P25 million for the system.
But in October 2017 Mabilog was dismissed from the service by the Office of the Ombudsman for unexplained wealth. Then vice mayor Espinosa who assumed Mabilog’s post put the project on hold.
Going ahead with the ITS without a comprehensive study on the city’s traffic situation would not be an intelligent move, explained Espinosa.
It was unclear, though, if Espinosa ordered a comprehensive study right after suspending his predecessor’s project.
As proposed by Mabilog, the first phase of the ITS would be on the Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. Avenue because this highway is prone to vehicular accidents due to overspeeding drivers.
Phase II would be on the coastal road, Phase III on the McArthur Highway Drive going to the municipality of Leganes, Iloilo and Phase IV on the Circumferential Road going to Oton, Iloilo./PN