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Going metro

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My previous article which discussed the need for a PWD (person with disability) parking tag, which includes the system for screening and issuing it, and penalties for offenders, made me wonder why there is no national law for it. If there is one, then it is certainly not being implemented and if that is the problem, that it might make the issue a little bit easier to address.

However, if there is truly no national law to make PWD parking better, then local ordinances will have to be passed and enforced. In the case of what we know as the Metro Bacolod area, if we consider the area from Bago City to Victorias City, that means there will need to be 5 separate city councils passing 5 different versions of such an ordinance, if ever they are so inclined to work on one.

That means 5 different stickers/tags, 5 sets of penalties, 5 different methods of implementation and enforcement, which probably means instant doom for that initiative and any other program that is best implemented over the area covered by the so-called metro.

In a nutshell, the lack of an official Metro Bacolod area, including the guidelines, rules and regulations for such a jurisdiction, makes it virtually impossible for many potential ordinances and regulations to be uniformly and consistently implemented, making any such effort truly frustrating for everyone involved.

The PWD sticker/tag is just one example, but if you come to think of it, there are so many other initiatives and ordinances that will need to be implemented or enforced metro-wide and at this stage, we simply cannot wait for all 5 city councils and executives to volt in like a robot and whip out its laser sword to solve issues that simply need a wee bit of common sense and a lot of political will.

Traffic management is one such issue that should be addressed on a metro-wide level in order to be effective. A uniform set of rules, penalties, fines, and standards is already a given, but the way it is currently done now, which is differently for over town and city, is just too chaotic and doesn’t leave much room for any coordination, long term masterplans, and consistency.

The same goes for urban planning, which would be a good thing now that it is already 2023. If the cities of the Metro Bacolod area to consider coming up with a plan, hopefully its leaders and planners sit down and coordinate a proper long term master plan for the entire metro area. It is preferably an ironclad one that is not affected by changing political fortunes of the people who are supposed to carry out such a plan instead of sabotaging it.

Any metro area will need a proper master plan, especially if they intend to come up with a better public transport system that isn’t just a disparate and uncoordinated set of “modern” jeepneys that can basically do whatever they want. The location of terminals doesn’t have to be at the borders of cities and the design of a public transport for an area like Metro Bacolod shouldn’t be defined by territorial limitations.

There was a proposal for a Metro Bacolod Authority a couple of years ago, but it looked like it never gained any ground, which isn’t surprising based on how the kings of Metro Manila’s cities still aren’t comfortable with giving the Metro Manila Development Authority the power to do its job properly.

PWD tags or stickers, traffic violation ticketing, public transportation, pedestrian lane planning, sidewalk clearing, and bike lane design, construction and implementation are just a few of the rules, regulations, or plans that any well run metropolis will need. As long as those different rules, programs, and initiatives do not move as one and are not implemented uniformly and consistently, the confusion will always reign, which means everything will simply bog down and nothing is ultimately accomplished.

For example, a person who follows a rule in Silay that is being enforced by its authorities, but sees no enforcement in the other cities of the so-called “metro” will end up either avoiding Silay or just take note of its borders so they know when to behave and comply. Of course, there will be those who do comply with the rule, even in areas where it is not enforced, but uptake will certainly take longer, especially if compared to an area where there is consistency of enforcement.

The problem dogging metropolitan development authorities is that in most cases, the heads of those bodies are appointed, not elected. And that is usually a problem with most proud elected officials, who find it pretty difficult to bow down to someone who is not elected. If the people and leaders of metro Bacolod can find a way to solve this, even the MMDA might come knocking on our door for advice.

But until then, all we can do is hope that the elected leaders and planners of our towns and cities take the time to talk and coordinate from time to time, and maybe we can get a taste of what can happen when they work together.*

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