Editors Note: This is part of our special election reporting project supported by Internews-Philippines. It focuses on the key issues in Bacolod City that must be addressed by candidates and by elected ones who will take over elective positions in Bacolod City on 30 June 2022.
Bacolod is now a highly-urbanized city. In fact it is one of only two in Region 6, an administrative area made up of six provinces covering 117 towns and 16 cities.
Horse-drawn carriages used to ply on its narrow roads until it became the center of a booming sugar industry.
Fast forward to today, Bacolod is now the political and commercial center of the province, the most densely populated center in the region among more than 130 towns and cities.
Up until the start of the COVID pandemic two years ago, the city had been plagued by traffic snarls and congestions, some during non-peak hours – 6 to 9 in the mornings and afternoons, and noontimes.
As a new administration takes over City Hall by noon of 30 June 2022, DNX took a look at the existing traffic plans under sitting Mayor Evelio Leonardia who had served for 18 years, and what the administration of incoming Mayor Albee Benitez plans to do in his first three-year term.
Basic data related to traffic from City Hall show a city with an ever-growing number of motor vehicles year on year and what appears to be a lack of a local systematic education campaign and unclear priorities on the three aspects of traffic management: engineering, enforcement, and education.
Data from the Land Transportation Office as of 2019 show a motor vehicle registration record of 115,000 units with public utility jeepneys being the most common followed by motorized trikes, buses, pedicabs, and bicycles.
“It’s growing year on year,” former traffic policeman Dennis Perma tells DNX as the new administration section chief of the Bacolod Traffic Authority Office.
Perma, appointed to the position just a month ago, will soon leave his post as the new administration of Mayor-Elect Albee Benitez takes over City Hall.
Perma has seen traffic up close, as an enforcer, and from a distance, as an executive at the BTAO managing the many aspects of traffic.
Basic data provided by BTAO show vehicles traveling through a total of more than 100 kilometers of roads – 72 kilometers classified as national or maintained by the Department of Public Works and Highways, and 31.3 classified as under the city government.
Of these roads, 97.7 kilometers are paved – 81.5 kilometers are “good,” 16.2 kilometers are “bad” while unpaved “bad” ones span 5.6 kilometers.
Within its more than 16,000 hectares are 25 bridges all under the DPWH, and a total of 278 intersections.
Roads classified as major thoroughfares are Lacson, Araneta, Carlos Hilado (Circumferential), Burgos, and Alijis.
These data, classified under the engineering aspect of traffic, impact congestion significantly, factors that will be discussed later on in this report.
(To be continued)