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Friday, 23 February 2018 14:18

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

In the 60s, it took about  10 minutes for the inexhaustible Jolly C. Climaco to reach City Hall from his house in Sta. Maria on a Wednesday to attend a city council session. It took him less than that to get to OK Bazar or El Barato Commercial. Today, his daughter, riding at the backseat of her official car, inches her way to City Hall using the same route - Sta. Maria, Mayor Jaldon, Climaco Ave.

During Jolly’s jolly times, there were no tricycles, pedicabs, smoke-belching jeepneys — maybe a few Velosolex, motorcycles, a few calesas driven by malnourished horses bred in Cabaluay. Traffic was never the subject of conversation in school campuses or offices because there was none. Now, this stretch is often tight because there’s just too many vehicles of all makes making their way to the city at 20 km/h. From our Spanish-designed house in Corcuera, it took me about 10 minutes to reach Ateneo on foot, less than that if I drove my Patria bicycle. San Jose Panigayan and Sevilla streets were clear of jeepneys — only wide open canals that served as drainage that grew wild tangkung.

There was no build-up of traffic in the late afternoons leading to dinner time, unlike today where there’s traffic gridlock everywhere every day. To get to an appointment at nine in the morning, you’ve got to leave the house at eight, if you don’t have a private ride — a pace that we’ll have to live with until City Hall and our two honorable representatives in the House can jointly find ways to address the traffic problem by opening up, probably, new roads.

While the foul smell of horse manure was prevalent then,  Zamboanga’s vehicles now are a source of deadly carbon monoxide and smog. Everybody plans their daily routine around traffic — how to reach the justice hall faster and what faster route to take in going to City Hall. Building transportation infrastructure should have long been the focus of the city government. And, we need experts, not politicians and their sidekicks, to teach us how to get it done. If, not when, Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar can get our main thoroughfares flowing like Sucabon River although how murky, it would be a victory for her.

It’s not easy to cure the traffic woes in Zamboanga when you have politicians fighting among themselves on how to get things done. There is nothing wrong if our designated leaders — the mayor, Mr. Celso Lobregat and Mannix Dalipe — sat together in one war room (without their aides) and plan out for a better Zamboanga.

Mr. Lobregat claims to have secured from the central government more than P2 billion for his infrastructure program. Mr. Dalipe has also obtained funds for his road projects in the east coast. They should pool their resources together, diagnose the city’s ills and put it in a state-of-the-city report.

While the city government has taken cared of the health, education and social needs of the people, more still have to be done for our water and power sources. On top of it all, the construction of a new airport in the east coast, as envisioned by the great Cesar C. Climaco in agreement with former Vice Mayor Manny A. Dalipe in 1981, should be their first priority.

Nearly two years into her second term, Mrs. Climaco-Salazar has piled up points on certain issues to firm up her campaign for a third and last term. If federalism doesn’t get off the ground, there will be elections in 2019. She has commanded her most trusted aide, Mrs. Apple Go, to overhaul the traffic system, fix the rotten state of the market and clean the dirty city of waste. She has extolled the city’s big taxpayers and top businessmen that have contributed immensely to our bustling economy as she seeks to drum up capital investments.

These three-headed colossus, working in unison intellectually and efficiently will surely capture the mood of the city once desired to be the greatest in Mindanao. We are an independent, highly-urbanized city for something.