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EDITORIAL: Vehicle Parking Paralysis

Naga City, the rising city of malls is facing a serious disease - a vehicle parking paralysis. The fact that Naga City is not alone in this predicament does not give us the remedy and the hope that the malady will just pass away without treatment.

There are vital areas in the city that are suffering from the disorder. For one, the most recent the construction of three important edifices at the center of Naga, the Bicol Medical Center do not provide enough parking space for Doctors and medical staff much more for families of patients. Despite three buildings one of which is eight stories high, there is not a single floor intended for vehicle parking. The medical infrastructure seemed to have been planned without foresight and consideration of the peripheral effects on their users. The case of the BMC is a repetition of the case of the Jesse M. Robredo Coliseum, a sports and public events center that does not have an adequate parking space. Provisionally the adjacent SM Mall which was constructed later than the coliseum has been acting as the suppository for people going to the dome during public activities.

The Naga City central business district extending to the long stretch of Elias Angeles down to Bagumbayan has clogged arteries caused by parked cars and motorbikes. Magsaysay Avenue widened and cleared from its historically majestic Acacia trees is not spared by the variety of vehicles parked at both sides of the road. The recent road clearing campaign of the City Hall in the backstreets is not expected to solve the physical problem permanently.

This problem is a manifestation of short-sighted physical planning of an economic frontier like Naga City. Progress did not result into development precautions but only into political expediencies. Metro Naga area is a huge economic zone. Although we don’t have factories or manufacturing and processing industries now yet the potentials for progress is present. The proliferation of Malls, banks and financial institutions in the City are indications that entrepreneurs see something positive otherwise they will not waste their investment here.

The good news is the rapid growth of vehicle sales. The bad news is that it is not matched by construction of roads or parking spaces in the buildings where these vehicles will be parked during office or business hours. The Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines and Truck Manufacturers Association reported an average 13.45% increase in sales during the first half of the year. The industry is targeting 10% annual increase in sales. At the same time the motorcycle industry has reported 21% sales last year. With all the big car and motorcycle dealers coming in Naga and Pili and the daily arrival of delivery trucks of cars and motorbikes these numbers can easily be extrapolated into the same percentage in Camarines sur.

This current experience must open the eyes of our government planners on the necessity for a long term and comprehensive urban development planning in order to address this rising type of paralysis. But this is not a job of the Naga City officials alone, it must be a collective effort of all sectors that comprise the Metropolitan Naga area. Maybe it is time to invite private investors to study constructing or putting up vehicle parks. Maybe it is time to look at new and strategic urban sites around the City. More importantly maybe it is time for planners to review the basic principles of progress: induced or planned development? RRB

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