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Traffic Menace: New Culture Among Us

“Only in Marawi,” a phrase rising to stardom due to multiple attributes one would instantly associate with his/her experience on a city confined within the domain of Lanao del Sur. From familiarity with the rich culture and tradition of Maranao people, a social stigma of being the streamer city, now tarpaulin city, came more noticeable to the public, local and national alike. However, there’s a rising trend now equally awful and as torturous as that of the environmental concern on plastic tarpaulin disposal.

On one occasion, I recall a good friend bluntly confessing how he enjoys driving around our city. So, my curiosity prompted me asking how come he feels that way when other people feel the opposite. His honest sarcasm answered with a question, “is there any other place where you can drive your car and stop at will anytime anywhere without you being ticketed by a traffic enforcer, or at least be charged with a traffic violation?” To my mind, he has a very good point. The daily reality of our traffic condition in our city and the province in general, is that motorists take public roads as their own private lane. Distinctly unfortunate when one will be caught up in the everyday congestion at the intersection in Basak area, where one vehicle would cut across a moving lane on the personal justification that his time is more valuable than the rest and so he must be given a way before those who waited in line for hours. It is no longer unusual when two vehicles on opposite lanes would just stop in the middle of the road for a quick chit chat.

This series of pitiful situations prompt the question, “is there any classification of private or public vehicles apart from what is provided under the law, if not idiosyncratic discrimination over the others?” Perhaps a revisit to the local ordinances concerning the traffic condition in our public highways is necessary. This matter certainly requires more than the barricades, aisles and street signs, rather a more stringent and firm public policy to discipline our motorists. Sadly, I recently read a Facebook post disgusted on how Maranaos not only counter the regular flow on the streets but even while taking the escalator in the malls. Now that’s terribly hurting more than the common ignorance, - that reflects a backward mentality among us.

Back in the 80s and 90s when there were only few vehicles hitting the road, there should have been a forecast through a preemptive policy on how traffic will get worse such as these present times. It was in the 20th century when most individuals can afford to enjoy the luxury of owning a vehicle despite the outcry on salary raise for insufficiency to support basic family needs. That eventually leads to the conclusion that owning a vehicle for personal convenience is being equated to necessity even among families living on a barong-barong. No wonder why air pollution becomes a familiar topic, more so, the varying oil prices now directly felt in as far as the rural towns of the province.

Studies conducted locally and abroad have developed models and strategies for efficient traffic management such as RTM, ATM or FORMAT approaches, now readily available on the market for purchase and application. However, one concern is the expensive cost of the program apart from the worry that it might not work in the local community on the basis of lack of several facilities primarily required by the program. A salt to the wound includes poor urban planning in our city, with very limited space for highways and public roads in exchange of a spacious front yard among those living near the streets. In fact, some have extended their houses covering the space above these public roads, hence, blocking large 10-wheelers passing. Providing visible street signs is, of course, a good start in resolving this, however, we must also consider the fact that most of us, if not all, neglect even looking at these signs - worse, we disregard it even if we understand what it means. That is a simple manifestation of being unruly and defiant to discipline and control. Worthy to note is another fact that drivers and motorists don’t have proper training on road safety, driving ethics and traffic resolution methods.

While there is an attempt to provide solution to this issue at hand, let us individually do our share of the burden by teaching discipline among ourselves, our families and our motorist friends rather than just sit down and let the government solely worry about this. Let us ask ourselves, “should we want our children and their children-to-be to inherit this social menace?” Do we spread awareness among our youth, being future and emerging leaders, on the magnitude of this concern as well as the viable solutions? Is there any written terms in our “taritib” and “igma” on giving ways to others in need or those who have waited for so long? Is there a fatwa from our religious sect highlighting the possible sanctions of those taking the line rightfully owned by another brother motorist?

Remember that what we do today will become part of the culture of the succeeding generation.

Thorny past. Resolve today. Better tomorrow.

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