Traffic speed limits make Davaenos and businesses sleepy

Moje Ramos-Aquino, Fpm

Moje Ramos-Aquino, Fpm

I love going to Davao—it is a thriving metropolis and, at the same time, still exudes the rural air. I love their fruits and their ukay-ukay market.

But not this time. I was there last week for a business trip. My sister Flora Jacobe and I stayed with our friend Dennis Peter Kintanar Lainez in their beautiful house in Poly Subdivision, Matina, Davao City. Every morning, I had to take a cab from Matina to Bajada, a good six kilometers by car. With regular traffic, it takes me about one-and-a-half hours, one way, on 30 kph and 40 kph speed limits.

Of course, they say there is rush hour, ongoing street repairs, vehicles breaking down in the streets or are involved in vehicular mishaps, pedestrians crossing and walking here, there and everywhere, undefined streets and others.

A portion of the Davao City speed limit ordinance states: “Executive Order No. 39: An order setting the speed limits for all kinds of motor vehicles within the territorial jurisdiction of Davao City, providing for its sanctions, and for other purposes.

“Now, therefore, I Rodrigo R. Duterte, Mayor of Davao City, by virtue of the power vested in me by law, do hereby order:

“Section 1.The rate of speed for all types of motor vehicles within the territorial boundaries of Davao City shall not exceed the following: Name of Highway,
Thoroughfare, Street, or Road and Maximum allowable speeds 60 Km/hour From Sirawan to Ulas Crossing; Lasang to Panacan; Calinan to Ulas Crossing; C.P. Garcia Highway-McArthur Highway to Panacan and; Ulas to Generoso Bridge/Bolton Bridge 40 km/hour From Panacan Crossing to J.P. Laurel Avenue-Alcantara; Ma-a Road Diversion to McArthur Highway; J.P. Laurel Ave. Alcantara to Bolton/Generoso Bridge 30 km/hour From Buhangin Crossing-Milan to Bolton/Generoso Bridge; C. P. Garcia Hwy-Bacaca Road to Bolton/Generoso Bridge and; C.P. Garcia Hwy-Angliongto St. to Bolton/Generoso Bridge”

When I arrived, I wasn’t aware of the speed limit and I got engrossed checking out the progress of Davao from the airport to Matina. No impressive progress, except for sprawling malls. The view, the buildings, the ongoing commerce and others, were the same as about five years ago when I was last there. Some streets were paved, but most are still in sorry state.

Practically no pedestrian crosswalk or pedestrian overpass, no sidewalks, and so pedestrians are all around the streets and what seem to be the edges of the streets.

Side streets are as narrow as ever and drivers must drive with precision or they will find themselves plunging into open canals. This is an exaggeration but let me put it this way, we left the airport with the sun still up, we reached Matina (a good 12 kilometers away) at nightfall. When I expressed concern about the long travel time, I was told about the speed limits and a stream of complaints.

I was told that street accidents only went down in the first month of its implementation, but it is back to “normal.” Jeepney drivers continue to be undisciplined—driving at crawling speed, stopping in the middle of the road to load or unload passengers, crowding in certain areas like shopping mall entrances.

And their jeepneys are so small and cramped, one could hardly breathe inside one.

Motorcyclist and bicyclist snake their way in and out of street lanes, unmindful of pedestrians and other vehicles. My friend Ruth Agullo said that she falls asleep driving at night when she works overtime—a very dangerous consequence.

One thing though, this speed limit is a great equalizer: whatever you are driving—sedan, SUV, sports car, jeepney, tricycle, motorcycle, bicycle, even skating—you will all arrive at your destination at the same delayed time.

I’ll go back to Davao when they lift the speed limit. Meantime, I will bring my business and my money somewhere else.

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