POSTSCRIPT / August 14, 2005 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Fernando's road traps continue to snag victims

ANOTHER ONE!: The same concrete blocks obstructing the very spot on EDSA near SM City where my car crashed on them last June 11 snagged another victim the other night. The poor driver survived, but the front of his Honda City sedan was crumpled beyond repair.

The driver, Nestor Macabulos of Sta. Rita, Pampanga, turned out to be a cousin of party list Rep. Satur Ocampo. His vehicle, with license plate WGK 809, is a company car of the construction firm EnerTrust.

Macabulos phoned his boss, who came rushing to the accident scene near the MRT North Avenue terminal. To my surprise, Romy Perez the boss pointed to his own car, a Space Wagon van with plate UGZ 792, as also an earlier victim.

Some two weeks ago, he said, his van also slammed on a concrete block at a similar U-turn at a dark section of Ortigas Extension in Rosario. As it was raining then, he did not notice early enough the dirty, unpainted blocks on the road.

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STUDY NEEDED: Since I called attention last Tuesday to these deadly obstructions scattered on Metro Manila thoroughfares by MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando, I am sure there have been many similar accidents, mostly in the evening.

In some cases where the victim was strong enough to limp back home and while his damaged vehicle could still be driven, the accident could remain unreported.

But it would be interesting to see the records being kept by Fernando’s boys at the Metro Manila Development Authority, which had taken over traffic matters in the metropolis.

Some enterprising reporter could do an in-depth report on these road hazards sponsored by the government itself.

Meantime, Bayani’s road traps continue to claim more victims.

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FEEDBACK BY TEXT: Below are some of the reactions received through our special Texting Service for celfon owners (see ePOSTSCRIPT at the end of this column):

Because of those U-turns, I also got into an accident last June 29 on EDSA Extension driving at 50 kph. Adelle Dejon, 21 yo.

Fernando is using his head in solving Metro Manila traffic. U-turns make drivers more careful and government save on traffic lights. Remy Rivera.

Sir, tama lahat ang nasa column nyo. Driver ho ako. Pwera pa sa death trap natuto pang maging reckless ang driver. F dela Vega.

We nid our roads and crossings back. It’s not the system. It’s the enforcement. Sonny Mirasol.

Mr Pascual why dont you take over the MMDA if you think you can do a better job than Fernando. Its easier said than done. KYH432 (Ha, ha, ha. That was funny, indeed! — fdp)

I became the butt of jokes during dinner conversations. They said I was the perfect example of a really lousy driver! But thanks to your article… NPH166.

The bystanders said I was the fourth person to hit those concrete barriers at that spot for that month. My car (Mazda 3) was a graduation gift. NPH166.

(NB: Texters are advised to append their names and to stick to within 149 characters to ensure that their messages are not cut by the carrier. — fdp)

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SAFETY STANDARDS: Samples of email on Fernando’s road barriers:

Glenn Ouano, Saudi Aramco, Riyadh — As a safety professional, let me say: based on international standard the area should be properly provided with traffic warning lights during dark time, proper barricade painting with international safety colors, the ground should be marked with illuminated paint if possible and directional and precautionary signages should be posted at the approach to the area and within the area itself. Even if the road is narrow or with high volume of vehicles, as long all these safety accessories are provided, it is proven that road incidents/accidents will be minimized if not eliminated. In re-routing to decongest traffic, the planning and design should be reviewed by certified road specialists such as road, safety or highway engineers.

Tito Morris — In our part of Quezon City, (the concrete blocks at U-turns) improved traffic flow. Maybe the cause of your accident was really the recklessness of the bus driver that tried to cut you off.

J. S. Ramirez — Fernando’s U-turns reduced the portion of the roads involved to l-2 lanes. We should go back to traffic-light-controlled intersections. He is acting like a little dictator, confident that he has the support of the President and ignores complaints from the motoring public. But the President travels with her escorts and will never appreciate the problems about these U-turns. With the U-turns, our metropolis is uglier and more dangerous traffic-wise than any other city in Asia.

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HOW MANY MORE?: More feedback from the POSTSCRIPT mailbox:

Tomas Tuason — One of the most idiotic things that the MMDA has done was to expand the U-turn slot on Commonwealth Avenue near the Asian Institute of Tourism towards Fairview. For the past weeks, traffic would build up when approaching that U-turn because some MMDA geniuses decided to expand the slot practically eating almost half of the Fairview-bound portion and installed those concrete blocks. Then last night, the traffic flow was much better. Why? Because the U-turn was returned to its old dimensions. Why? Because an accident took place in the evening of last Sunday or early morning of Monday. (How many more must die or get maimed before Fernando takes heed? — fdp) When we passed by it yesterday morning, some pieces of the concrete blocks were scattered. We pray that MMDA will not change the slot again.

Clifford E. Cobsilen — The U-turn of Fernando is more of a problem than a solution to our dreadful traffic situation. To be effective, first, a U-turn must be either above or underground so as not to disturb the flow of traffic once you get over to the opposite direction; and second, we have a massive fleet of public transports courtesy of those smoke-belching jitneys. Unless these items are addressed, U-turns will remain a morning nightmare for motorists.

Lou Tongco — I agree with you 100 percent. I am a motorist of EDSA for more than 20 years and driving has never been so stressful until Fernando changed EDSA. Will somebody tell that stubborn Fernando that not all his traffic schemes are efficient and effective.

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YOUTH KILLED: Another reader, Rene Moral, wrote in part: On Katipunan Road, a 16-year-old was crushed to death by a car that avoided hitting the U-turn concrete barricades beneath the pedestrian flyover across National bookstore. Had there been no U-turn slot, that boy could still be alive today.

The U-turn slots are anti-pedestrian. On Katipunan, there are two pedestrian overpasses that do not serve the needs of Ateneo and Miriam college students as these are located too far from the entrances of the schools.

The U-turn forces drivers to cut into the path of oncoming vehicles to get to the leftmost lane where the U-turn slots are located. After making a U-turn, they again have to cut into the path of the oncoming vehicles on the opposite lane for them to get to the rightmost side.

The U-turns are an invitation to accidents because drivers are forced to swerve from one lane to another which, in other civilized societies, is tantamount to reckless driving but which the MMDA advocates.

And look at what MMDA did to the Elliptical Road in Quezon City. It is to each his own. It is a classic picture of anarchy!

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SMALL TOWN: We have shared these statistics before, but after EITURLA@aol.com posted them, I decided to pass them on again as Sunday reading fare.

If the population of the Earth were reduced to that of a small town with just 100 people, it would look something like this: 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 Americans (northern and southern), and eight Africans. They would consist of 52 women and 48 men; 70 colored-skins and 30 Caucasians. With the 89 heterosexuals would be 11 homosexuals.

Only six of the people would own 59 percent of the wealth of the whole world and all of them would be from the United States.

Of the sample 100, 80 would have bad living conditions, 70 would be uneducated, 50 underfed. One of them would die and two would be born within the day. One of the 100 would have a computer and only one would have had higher education.

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YOU ARE BLESSED: This morning, if you woke up healthy, you would be luckier than the 1 million people that will not survive next week.

If you never suffered a war, the loneliness of the jail cell, the agony of torture, or hunger, you could be happier than 500 million people in the world.

If you can enter a church (mosque) without fear of jail or death, you are more blessed then 3 million people in the world.

If there is food in your refrigerator, have shoes and clothes, you have bed and a roof, you are richer than 75 percent of the people in the world.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of August 14, 2005)

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