BAGUIO CITY – The City Council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance authorizing the collection of congestion fee in the city.
The ordinance authored by Councilors Leandro B. Yangot, Jr. and Faustino A. Olowan stated that the local legislative measure aims to alleviate the worsening traffic congestion in the city, especially in the central business district area.
Under the proposed ordinance, congestion fee shall refer to the fees that will be collected by the local government from visiting motorists to the city while congestion fee trust fund will refer to the account where all collected congestion fees will be deposited purposely for traffic alleviation purposes.
The ordinance stipulated that all visiting motor vehicle owners or drivers shall pay upon entry to the city the amount of P50 .
However, the local legislative measure declared that residents of the city shall be exempted from paying the congestion fee as contained in the ordinance.
Originally, Baguio City was planned by American urban planner Arch. Daniel Burnham in the 1900s for only 25,000 inhabitants only, but the city’s population has increased to 364,000, excluding students and day time visitors who come to the city to transact business.
Further, the road network designed in the early 1900s were narrow considering that the city was planned for a population of only 25,000, thus, the traffic congestions along the city’s major roads due to the rapid increase in the number of motor vehicles and people in the different parts of the city.
Yangot admitted that at present, traffic is one of the biggest headaches of city officials but traffic can be at least minimized or controlled to a tolerable level with the strict implementation of existing traffic rules and regulations coupled with the imposition of the necessary congestion fees for visiting motor vehicles.
He underscored there is also a need to effectively and efficiently regulate the entry of visiting cars to the city which warrants the collection of congestion fees wherein the amount shall be charged from visitor cars entering the city.
He explained that the congestion fee collected shall be used to help alleviate the current traffic problem being experienced by motorists in the different parts of the city and that all fees that will be collected will be deposited in a trust fund to be used to bankroll the implementation of programs and activities to improve the traffic situation in the city.
Based on the data obtained from the Land Transportation Office in Baguio City, there are more than 58,600 motor vehicles that are registered in the city aside from the more than 44,000 registered motor vehicles in the nearby capital town of La Trinidad, Benguet.
The ordinance was referred to the concerned committee of the local legislative body for study and recommendation whether or not the same will be passed on second and third readings prior to its full implementation.
The local legislative body is currently winding up its remaining 3 regular sessions for the term before the expiration of the term of the present batch of members.
By Dexter A. See