Davao’s new traffic system is “Asia’s most modern”

Celso Gempesaw, Davao City’s traffic management center chief, said no other city has used the system yet as they will rerun the implementation of the traffic lights either end of next week or the following week.

The P140-million traffic system was implemented on Dec. 19, but Mayor Rodrigo Duterte ordered its suspension days after it created traffic jams in some of the city’s major intersections.

Gempesaw said other Asian cities installed traffic systems much earlier and are now just upgrading technology. In the 1990s, he said, Cebu’s traffic system was the most modern in the country.

He noted that the traffic signalization system is capable of doing many things.

The system will be run via a command center using video cameras in intersections. It is thus capable of watching out for traffic violators on camera.

Gempesaw, however, said traffic in Davao City is still very manageable. He said the city’s traffic situation is still much better from that of Metro Manila where there is a need to implement a number coding scheme to regulate vehicle use.

He estimated the city’s registered motor vehicles at 52,000, 20 percent of which are public utility vehicles.

Gempesaw denied that technology was the cause of the city’s suspension of the implementation of the new traffic system in December.

“It is not the system that has a problem, it is how it was operated,” he said. Gempesaw said Abratique and Associates, the project's contractor, used traffic count in 2000 in setting up the timing of the traffic lights.

Motorists have complained against prolonged travel time along the city’s major intersections. “Time for the vehicles to go is gone in 60 seconds,” said Rod, a 36-year-old jeepney driver.

Gempesaw said four US-based consultants of the contractor are expected to arrive this week to help fine-tune the system.

Gempesaw said Sunday preparations are ongoing for the re-run involving more government agencies. He said they will have more coordination this time. Employees of the contractor had been spotted doing traffic count in the intersections where the traffic lights were installed.

Gempesaw said after the new traffic lights in 29 of the city’s intersections are formally turned over, installation will start for the P120-million second phase of the project, which involves putting up traffic lights in 22 more intersections.

He said the traffic system has a one-year warranty, to cover the time when the contractor trains local technicians to run the system.

Former city councilor Aries Albay, who was at the Club 888 press conference Wednesday with Gempesaw, said the public should also be prepared to use the traffic system.

“No matter how modern the system is, there would be a problem if the people are not attuned to it,” he said.

Gempesaw said they are preparing information and education modules to inform the public, especially those in barangays, about the new traffic system. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)