Monday, July 29, 2013
Philippines-Demolition of illegal structures in Benguet Province
Benguet, July 29 — The Philippine National Police (PNP) provincial command of Benguet Province has recommended to the local peace and order council (POC) the demolition of numerous illegal structures which encroach the right-of-way in this capital town which has monstrous traffic jams over the last decade.
At the average, there are more than 5,000 public and private vehicles which pass through the seven-kilometer road traversing the valley towards Baguio City, excluding a dozen of regular vegetable hauler trucks.
Police Sr. Supt. Rodolfo Azurin, Benguet provincial commander, said this is just part of the recommendation which involves the "holistic approach of engineering, encroachment removal, education and enforcement."
For more than a decade now, the traffic jams in this capital town which has adverse effects on commerce and industry, including tourism, remain to inconvenience hundreds of motorists and passengers daily.
Records show that former Municipal Mayor Artemio Galwan was the first to have implemented the demolition of illegal structures in the southernmost portion of the Baguio-Bontoc Road known as "Halsema Highway."
It was then that the travel time within the seven-kilometer distance was reduced to 20 to 30 minutes. These days however, the average travel time, especially during peak hours, would be from two to three hours.
Azurin explained that strict traffic rules implementation is not enough to solve the worsening heavy traffic flow in this urban area without installing appropriate traffic lights, designation of loading areas of jeepneys with various routes, more pedestrian lanes and overpasses, proper education and discipline of pedestrians and motorists, and designation of a lead agency to study the issue as well as implement all the measures of traffic congestion.
For the past five years, foreign and local tourists coming here for the increasingly popular strawberry picking has complained of the predicament of very slow traffic flow, and also the perceived growing number of structures within the former wide strawberry fields.
During the last campaign period for the synchronized national and local elections, candidates were unanimous in the observation that these inter-related issues need to be addressed within the soonest possible time.
To date, however, no tangible measure has been undertaken towards the improvement of traffic flow within the area nor the preservation of existing strawberry fields from further diminution.
Records show that the improved eco-tourism industry here over the past decade was primarily on strawberry production which shall remain unduplicated anywhere in the country due to the place's unique cool weather and high altitude.
The valley's inclusion in the Guinness Book of World Records as well as the well attended yearly agri-based festival is due to its strawberry production. (PNA)
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