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Road widening ‘not the solution’ Thursday, November 19, 2015 By Jeandie O. Galolo Bumper to bumper. An intersection on N. Bacalso Ave. shows a heavy flow of traffic. German urban expert Dr. Manfred Poppe says road widening projects are not the solution to solving Metro Cebu’s worsening traffic problem. He suggests reducing car ownership and establishing a car pooling system. (Sun.Star File) A GERMAN urban expert believes that road widening works in Cebu today are not answering the traffic problems. “Road widening projects are not totally solving the problem. I dont think the streets need to be widened because it is negatively affecting public spaces,” said Connective Cities senior project manager Dr. Manfred Poppe, who was in Cebu yesterday to hold a dialogue with local urban practitioners. Connective Cities is a joint venture between the Association of German Cities, the German non-profit organisation Engagement Global Service for Development Initiatives, and the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. It serves as a venue for dialogue where urban experts share practice-oriented experience on sustainable urban development, learn together and develop ideas for urban projects. Through dialogue and learning formats, it mobilizes German and international know-how on sustainable urban development. For the Philippines, Cebu was identified as the preferred site, being a second city after Metro Manila. The Connective Cities project, Poppe said, is mostly undertaken in secondary or medium-sized cities where growth is speedy and considered more attractive sites for migration among rural dwellers. Dr. Poppe cited the worsening traffic conditions in Cebu, where road widening is one of the massive projects undertaken by the government in the hope of alleviating traffic congestion. However, Poppe suggests there should be a reduction of car ownership in Cebu and a car pooling system in place. However, he recognized that the reason car ownership in the country is growing is primarily due to the increase in purchasing power of the Filipinos, coupled with low-quality public transportation. Car ownership in developing countries is a status symbol, Poppe said, which makes it even more attractive to buy a car, and consequently contributing to traffic. “In low income societies, cars are considered as status symbols... But in Germany, less of the youth wants to own a car,” Poppe said. According to the National Economic Development Authority 7 Director Efren Carreon, who was present during yesterday’s dialogue, Germany has one of the most efficient integrated public transport systems in the world. Meanwhile, Cebu and Manila were recently ranked as the least livable cities among the member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), especially in the areas of connectivity, environmental sustainability and health and welfare. The Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) study entitled “Building Better Cities,” released on the sidelines of the Apec CEO Summit Wednesday, showed Manila ranking 22nd and Cebu 26th among the 28 APEC cities surveyed. “Our study ranks Cebu, the Philippines’ second-largest city, low in connectivity, including airport connectivity and access from the airport to the business district center,” PwC said. During the APEC meetings in Cebu held in October, Chinese Taipei Ministry of Transportation and Communications Chi-Kuo Lin called Cebu’s traffic situation a “nightmare.” Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 20, 2015.