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EDITORIAL: Urban Planning Paralysis

This holy week will remind us of a opt-repeated scene in the city every fiesta or holiday. Naga City is becoming a city of shopping malls. At present, there are around 10 large or medium malls in the City. At least three more are under construction. While these establishments are providing their own customer parking spaces, the interior roads of the city do not have enough spaces to accommodate the growing number of temporary parking users. The current housing and human settlement project government are adding to the city’s state of urban planning paralysis.

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 on both sides of the road. The road-clearing campaign of 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 in development precautions but only fed political expediencies. Metro Naga area is a prosing economic zone. Although we don’t have factories or manufacturing and processing industries now yet the potential for their coming is present. The proliferation of malls, banks, and financial institutions in the City is an indication that entrepreneurs see something positive in terms of market potential, otherwise they will not waste their investment here.

The rapid growth of vehicle and motorcycle sales which is a sign of an increasing middle-class market is good news. The bad news is that it is not matched by an expansion of the urban settlement areas and road infrastructure for the safe and easy movement of goods and services. The Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of Manufacturers of the Philippines (CAMP) has reported a 27.2% increase in vehicle sales in February this year. At the same time, the motorcycle production report in the Philippines recorded a 7.1 % increase this January 2023. This can be easily confirmed by the daily passing of trucks carrying various types and brands of cars and motorcycles, some of which are expectedly sold in Naga and surrounding municipalities in Camarines Sur.

This growing experience must open the eyes of our government planners to the necessity for long-term and real development planning to address this rising type of urban paralysis. But this is not a job of the Naga City officials alone, it must be a collective effort of economic and political sectors that comprise the Metropolitan Naga area. Maybe it is time to look at new and strategic places and sites for expanded urban planning growing metropolis.

Most importantly, it is time for planners to review and apply the basic principles of development management: INDUCED PLANNING demanded by the short-term response to unintended growth or STRATEGIC PLANNING based on long-term analysis of development growth?


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