THE advantage of an incumbent not having a political adversary during elections is that he or she will not be hobbled and hampered by the rigors of the campaign and therefore can continue monitoring and implementing projects.
This what is happening in Davao City. Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio might be seen hopping from one region to another to campaign for Hugpong ng Pagbabago senatorial bets at the height of the midterm elections however she is still hands-on with the city’s various projects.
If you happen to visit Davao City these days, you might encounter a mess mash condition: diggings here and there, detours, traffic congestions in city roads that are dusty when the sun is up and muddy when it rains. Power lines and telecom cables dangle like cobwebs in old electric posts that lean wherever the weight of the cables are heavier.
Along C. M. Recto St., where my little nook called office is located, endless hums of boring machines add to the noise of passenger jeepneys that ply this one-way street. We call this mode of transport multi-cabs. These were “salvaged” from Japan cemetery of used small utility right-hand driven vehicles which were smuggled into the country. My mole at the Bureau of Customs told me that the body of each unit is cut horizontally and hung in 40-footer container van while the chassis is laid flat on the floor minus the tires. The containers are then packed with other legitimate or misdeclared cargoes that would pass customs inspection no sweat.
How multi-cabs surface like mushrooms in Mindanao despite these being smuggled items is one for the Ripley’s too. The government issued license and permits to welding shops to put back the bodies and the chassis of the cabs together. It also allowed the conversion of right-hand-drive vehicles to left-hand-drive. And then the Land Transportation Office and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board generously award franchises to multi-cab operators. Thus, the once Francisco Motors beautifully crafted jeeps lost out to the cheap “multi-cabs” that had been salvaged from the garbage dump of Japan.
But even these rolling coffins will soon be phased out. Top in the agenda of Mayor Inday Sara, when she was first elected mayor was to establish a bus transport system in the city. But this never came to fruition as she gave way to her father to run anew as mayor after his first term of office as a congressman. Her dream was revived when she was elected again as Mayor when her famous father ran and was elected President of the Philippines. A feasibility study had been done and trial runs using buses from existing transport firms proved to be excellent solutions to ferry heavy volumes of passengers from various points of the city during peak hours.
High Priority Bus System, Mayor Inday calls it, will allow the deployment of some 1,000 low-floor city buses starting with about 25 units within the next few weeks. By 2021, all 7,000 passenger jeeps of whatever make will be phased out. Jeepney drivers will be given the first opportunity to be hired as drivers provided they pass the TESDA tests and age requirement. Otherwise, they will be receiving a compensation package from the city government and the Department of Transportation.
Going back to C. M. Recto Avenue, (I still would call it by its old name Claveria), the sidewalks will have even surface that would make it easy and friendly for persons with disability and senior citizens. I just came back from Vancouver and as a senior citizen myself I walked through long stretches of streets without fear of stumbling in uneven sidewalks like what we have in Claveria and elsewhere in the country. Soon we too will get rid of that problem.
By the year 2020, we expect to see Claveria restored to its glory, only this time better with the well-paved road, no more eyesores in the avenue that is well-lighted with new street lamps and lamp posts. These in exchange for the inconvenience which we Dabawenyos have to endure presently. There might still be old structures along the avenue but already clusters of high-rise condominiums have risen and more buildings are being constructed. Claveria will stay on as the banking row of Davao City.
But that is not enough. My conservative estimate is that towards the end of next year, the boulevard on the coastline of the city shall have been completed which will effectively ease traffic downtown. Already, the bypass roads west of the city had cut across boundary lines between the city and Davao del Norte. For a longer route, say Tagum City - Davao City - Digos City in Davao del Sur, commuters can take the railway not long from now.
We Dabawenyos cannot wish for more. But if there are small things we hope to see, I personally would want to see our taxis in just two color combinations: yellow and black or black and yellow.