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In a RUT

By: Jullie Y. Daza

IF you read every law that’s ever been drafted or “crafted” for our wellbeing, you’d wonder why our roads are not lighted, do not have sidewalks, get flooded after 15 minutes of rain (then reduced to rubble), and look like the crummiest cream puffs an engineer could bake in a third-world country.

I didn’t know we had a Road Board (created by law) until the Speaker of the House threatened to abolish it for misuse of funds – what else is new? As most of us know, there’s a Road User’s Tax or RUT, aha, a perfect acronym for a tax with no visible, appreciable return on investment; RUT spells rutted roads, as we’re in a rut, poor uncomplaining citizens that we are. But a Road Board?

Who knew? It spent P91 billion from 2001 to 2012 (that was five years ago), and what do they have to show for it?

Refer to first paragraph. Now the President is saying, “That Road Board has to go.” Not only are our streets the darkest in Asia, they are so badly designed and maintained that we should do visitors a favor by limiting their itineraries to the privately built toll roads and expressways.

I was watching an episode of a show called Street Food and delighted to see the host, a Caucasian, enjoying halo-halo and balut in the streets of Metro Manila. Minutes later, he moved to Seoul, and that’s when my stomach churned. You could see how differently our streets look from those of Korea – the contrast is neither delectable nor palatable.

Seoul’s street food is peddled in pleasant surroundings, the streets looking like a park or plaza with views of trees and a river nicely meandering in the background, while ours – well, you know the rest.

Sure, good-looking streets and street food may not have anything to do with a law that says roads must be built for the safety and benefit of drivers, but that’s exactly the attitude that has set us back these many years. The thinking that everything about public service is compartmentalized, each department safely isolated from the others.

That the people are so easily hoodwinked, they’re happy with their ugly, shabby street because one is better than none.