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Magalong: Baguio eyeing massive construction projects to decongest city

Baguio City — one of the top tourist destinations in the country due to its cold weather — is eyeing massive construction of transport terminals, parking buildings and sidewalks, among others, to decongest the jammed city.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong outlined the city’s plan during the Promotion of Low Carbon Urban Transport Systems hosted by the Department of Transportation and United Nations Development Program on Tuesday, given that Baguio City is already drowning in terms of vehicles plying the city and the number of residents.

Magalong said Baguio City, which is only 57 square kilometers, is ideally good for 25,000 to 30,000 people—a far cry from the city’s current population of 367,000.

Further, Magalong said the city is only ideal to accommodate 15,000 to 17,000 vehicles—a figure way below the 63,000 vehicles registered there.

“During the Christmas season, we welcomed 27,000 vehicles in Baguio. That is on top of the 63,000 vehicles in the city. We are really in a dire situation,” Magalong said.



Magalong said a number of initiatives are already underway, namely: construction of three integrated transport terminals, road widening on both sides and 10 meters from the edge of the road, construction of sidewalks for P200 million to encourage walking, construction of eight green architecture parking buildings, a greenery program to increase number of pine trees, implementing a no garage, no franchise policy for public utility vehicles, among others.

“Ang mga jeepney, taxi, sa kalsada nakaparada. Problema talaga kaya I am asking if we can fast track the signing of the memorandum of understanding with LTFRB para we can put this no garage, no franchise policy into motion,” Magalong said.

“For the sidewalks, the construction will start on third week of January. We have invested P150 million for this, and I have asked DPWH Secretary Mark Villar for another P50 million. And for the next two and a half years, we will invest P400 million for this construction of better sidewalks to make our city more walkable. After all, masarap maglakad sa Baguio kasi malamig,” he added.

As for the greenery program, Magalong said this would restore Baguio’s 355 hectares of lost forest cover—a forest cover wiped out from 2014 to 2017 alone.

Moreover, Magalong cited that from having 700,000 adult pine trees 15 years ago,  Baguio’s adult pine trees have been reduced to 400,000—a huge factor in affecting air quality in Baguio.

“Kung aakyat kayo sa Baguio for fresh air, I am sorry to say, you won’t get it. Iyong mga umaakyat sa Baguio, ang sabi, wala ng amoy ang pine trees. Ang pine trees po, kapag tumatanda, nawawala na rin ang amoy. Parang tao rin.Andiyan rin po ang bark beetles, which attack the core of the pine tree,” Magalong said.

“Sa pagtatanim ng seedlings, 10 percent lang po nagsusurivive. Kaya ang gagawin po sa greening program, aalagaan po muna sa tree farm ang pine trees,” Magalong added.

Given the situation, Magalong assured the public that the local government of Baguio will see to it that the plans will come to fruition.

“Malaki po ang problema namin, but we are doing something about it. We need political will to do this, and [I assure you that] we will do it,” he said. — RSJ, GMA News