LOOKING IN: Decongest the city PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 28 July 2014 13:20

BY ROD BALBON

 

Being the educational, commercial, business, and industrial center of Region 9, Zamboanga City has become the oasis of all types of people coming from the various places in the region. It has practically all the amenities that one would find in first class cities in the country at lower costs. Compared to Manila, Cebu, and Davao, the pace of life here is a bit slow, easy, at times laid back. Food is cheap and abundant. Varieties of fish, fruits, and vegetables are fresh and readily available. Financial sources revealed that because of its “underground economy”, the daily amount of money circulated is the biggest in the country.

Unfortunately, despite having grown by leaps and bounds in just a few years, the city has failed to keep pace with progress and development. Its social and business radius have not really expanded.“People centers” such as shopping malls, groceries, schools, churches, public markets, bus terminals and government offices are all found within the city. Thus, everyone has nowhere to go but to the city to transact business, to attend class, to pray and hear mass, to shop, to buy food and grocery items, to relax and watch movies, to attend concerts and rallies, and what have you.

Moreover, its city streets and roads are short and narrow, highlighted by numerous traversing old and dilapidated colorum public jeepneys, tricycles, and pedicabs that cause monstrous traffic jams during rush hours.

What I can’t understand is: why does the city government allow vendors, peddlers, hawkers, money changers, and bootleggers sell their wares and do their business in pedestrian lanes? Pedestrians are now forced to use the streets in going to their intended places thus affecting the free flow of traffic.

Mix all of these and you’ll have a recipe of madness and disorder. Try walking around the city during rush hours and you’ll see the chaotic situation.

Be that as it may, these problems can be remedied and solved.

First, I suggest that the City Council should pass an ordinance that will prohibit the construction of “people centers” within the 7-kilometer radius of the city. This must likewise include the prohibition for an existing “people center” to expand their buildings or offices. Only renovations shall be allowed.

Second, as earlier suggested by former City Mayor and Congressman Erbie Fabian, the City Council should also pass an ordinance granting tax holidays and incentives to those businessmen who would establish their businesses outside of the city’s 7-kilometer radius.

Such measures will greatly help decongest the city since many people and vehicles, both public and private, will now have somewhere else to transact business, to go shopping, etc.

It’s not too late to expand the city to the east or west coast and bring back the old beauty and serenity of Zamboanga City.